SOCIOLINGUISTIC SITUATION OF NIGERIA: THE BILINGUAL CONDITIONS AMONG NIGERIAN SPEAKERS OF ENGLISH

CHAPTER ONE

1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Over half the world’s population is bilingual and many people are multilingual. They acquire a number of languages because they need them for different purposes in their everyday interactions. The research had it that most of African nations are multilingual. Nigeria is as well a multilingual nation, with 452 different ethnic languages operating daily amongst the lives of the people.One will need one or two of these languages in his daily interactions. Apart from these ethnic languages, there are other varieties of languages that are in operation in the society e.g. lingua franca, which is predominantly English Language, Pidgin, and creoles. All of these are what made up the linguistic varieties in Nigeria. The environment one lives (geographical location) is what determines whichcode to be chosen per time. Also, the classes of people that are involved in the daily activities plays a vital role to some extent, in the choice of the variety of the language to be used. The linguistic code to be used in the formal school environment will be different from the one to be used at home, and the one at home is to some extent, different from the one to be used in the market.

The main reason why I have interest in carrying out research work on this project topic titled “linguistic varieties and a multilingual nation” and have Nigeria as my case study is not just to identify these various languages that are in existence in the nation.

The aim of this research is to examine how languages behave in a multilingual speech community and how people react to these linguistic behavioural patterns. In a situation where there are more than two or three languages that function simultaneously in society there are bound to be language crisis. Some languages will likely to be subjugated or dominated, thereby making them look inferior or unattractive. Therefore this research work will help in identifying such problems and to also proffer possible solution to them. It is obvious that language is an Integra part of culture, and culture is referred to as people’s way of life, therefore if there is any language that is suffering from inferiority complex, the people that own such language will suffer the some. Therefore, via this research work and any other research work that shall further this study, will be able to draw government’s attention tp these degenerating languages, and a mean of bringing them to the lime light will be carried out.

There are several other issues which are problematic to the Nigerian society orchestrated by multilingualism. This research work also takes a look at them and in the same way suggest possible solution to them. Such issues as communication barriers, language domination and so on are addressed in this work.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Problem of communication had been a common feature in all multilingual nations. People across the globe need to communicate with one another in order for society and business to keep going. Human society cannot survive without communication, and so the use of languages cannot be overlooked. There are various languages that are engaged in these enormous activities of communication in Nigeria. The problem that arises as the result of existence of these multi-languages is what necessitates this research work. It is a common feature among Nigerians that, an individual must need more than one language to survive the socioeconomic and political situation in the country.

Nigeria as one of the most multilingual nations in Africa has developed so many languages that serve as medium of communication in her day to day activities. The existence of these various Languages is what i call linguistic varieties in Nigeria. They range from: Mother Tongue (MT), to lingua franca, to pidgin and creoles, to standard, and national language. The understanding of one or two of these languages is necessary to the survival of an individual in the nation. As earlier stated, language is vital to the survival of a society.

There are various languages Nigeria and majority of them are on their way to extinction already, except with government’s timely intervention to their restoration. The question is what will happen to their owner? Definitely they will imbibe other languages, but something very important is gone out of their lives. Some people are even ashamed of speaking their mother tongue because of inferiority complex. Government should stage programs that will cure such damaged mind. High level of favouritism that has pervaded the society today is rooted on language differences. Something should be done about it our mother tongue has almost given way to alien code in mega cities this also should be considered. All these problems are what this project research work seeks to proffer solution, or recommend solution to.

1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

On the basis of the foregoing stated problems, the following questions are raised:

  1. How many languages do we have in Nigeria?
  2. Which language serves as national language in Nigeria?
  • Which language (s) serve as lingua franca in Nigeria?
  1. What role do pidgins and croles play in Nigeria?
  2. Which languages are standard language in Nigeria?
  3. What is the consequences of not understanding these languages?
  • How do people acquired these various languages? And what do one stands to gain over another by understanding these language?

1.4   OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

1.4.1     BROAD OBJECTIVE

To examine the sociolinguistic situation of Nigeria, and how individuals acquire different languages for different purposes, and how each of these linguistic groups harmonize and form a habitable society.

1.4.2  SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES

This research also aims at achieving the following goals:-

  1. To examine how these various languages aid the economic and political development in Nigeria.
  2. To examine how the understanding of these codes had contributed to the social well-being of an individual.
  • To widen our scope on the multilingual and multicultural nature of Nigerian society.

1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

In the study area, the project will be relevant because it will widen our knowledge and understanding about the subject matter – linguistic varieties and a multilingual nation: A case study of Nigeria – and setup our mind on how to positively embrace other ethnic linguistic groups that are different from ours. Also, it is very crucil because it helps identifies the language and cultural diversity in Nigeria, and also sensitizes our mind on the need to harmoniously co-habit with other ethnic groups, knowing fully well that Nigeria is a multi-lingual and multicultural nation, and so everyone should see a fellow as a relative and not a stranger, because of language differences. This knowledge will help to curtail these excesses of tribal wars in the nation Nigeria. We are one.

This study will equally give suggestions that are relevant and useful, while the reports shall serve as repertoire of knowledge for other researches to consult in the nearest future.

1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY

The scope of this study is on linguistic varieties of a multilingual nation. A case study of Nigeria. Due to the vast scope of the research area (Nigeria), it is limited to Abuja city. Emphasis is on the nature of the linguistic varieties in Nigeria and why people acquire various languages for different purposes in their daily interactions. And how this had helped them to peacefully co-habit and manage well in a multilingual setting like Nigeria. The findings of this research might apply to other towns in Nigeria apart from FCT.

This is because this city is a mega city and there could be a useful information from other minor and nearby satellite towns.

1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS

–   Linguistic Varieties: refers to various or different languages that are in existence.

–   Multilingual: Speaking or using different languages

–   Multilingual Nation: This refers to society or nation that has more than two languages.

–   Nation: This is considered as a country with a group of people of the same history who live in a particular area under one government.

–    Language: A.C. Crimson defines language as “a system of conventional symbols used for communication by a whole community ” and Christophersen add that “ language is a means of communication” Edward Sapir also noted that“language is a purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of a system of voluntarily produced symbols”. Therefore, language is a medium through which human beings communicate.

–    Culture: This is a way of a people’s life.

–    Multicultural: refers to several different beliefs, religion, languages and traditions.

–    Population: This refers to the total number of all the people who live in a particular area, city or country.

–    Interaction: process of communicating with somebody.

–    Communication: This refers to the activity or process of expressing ideas and feelings or of giving people information.