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This study investigates the use of creativity and deviation in Nigerian English, and the implications it has for international intelligibility and acceptability. It examines these deviation and creative forms in sounds, lexemes, syntactic forms, semantic forms used in Nigerian English in comparison with similar forms as used in Standard British English. The study reclined on interlanguage and languages-in-contact theories as the basis for the investigation. Data for the study were gathered basically from existing literature on both Nigerian English and Standard British English. At each level and/or sub-level of linguistic organization, 5 to 10 items were selected from each of Nigerian English and Standard British English. Adopting Standard British English as control; these items in the Nigerian variety of English were analyzed and compared with those in Standard British English, and the areas of divergence noted. Findings of the study indicate that at all the levels of linguistic organization; significant deviation exists in Nigerian English from Standard British English. Findings also show that the peculiar features of sound and syntax, and the nativized words and expressions used in Nigerian English are perfectly understood and acceptable in the Nigerians sociolinguistic setting but are not readily understood by the native speakers of English, due to differences in context, worldview and culture. The research thus affirms that Nigerian English is a legitimate variety in its own right. It further concludes that although international intelligibility and acceptability are important so as to establish a standard local norm, local considerations take pre-eminence over international considerations. The study encourages intensive development of literature on Nigerian English. With this and familiarity, L1 speakers of English and other visitors will get accommodated in this variety of English just as Nigerians who visit other English speaking countries do with British English, American English and other varieties where usages also differ. By so doing, communication will be facilitated.


Title Page
List of Tables
List of Charts
List of Abbreviations

Chapter One: Introduction
1.1       Background of the Study
1.2       Statement of the Problem
1.3       Objective of the Study
1.4       Significance of the Study
1.5       Scope /Delimitation
1.6       Definition of Terms

Chapter Two: Review of Related Literature
2.1       Nigerian Spoken English and its Varieties
2.2       Written Nigerian English and its Varieties
2.3       Nativization
2.4       The Concept of New Englishes
2.5       English and International Intelligibility
2.6       The Issue of Acceptability in Language
2.7       Summary of Literature Review

Chapter Three: Methodology and Theoretical Framework
3.1       Methodology
3.1.1    Method of Data Collection
3.1.2    Method of Data Analysis
3.2       Theoretical Framework
3.2.1    Interlanguage
3.2.2    Language-in-Contact Theory

Chapter Four:  Nigerian English Vis-à-vis Standard British English
4.1       The Issue of Standard in the English Language
4.2       Differences between Nigerian English and Standard British English
4.2.1    Phonological Differences
4.2.2    Lexical Differences/Neologisms
4.2.3    Syntactic Differences
4.2.4    Semantic Differences
4.2.5    Pragmatic Differences and other Innovations
4.3       Implications of the Differences on International Intelligibility and Acceptability

Chapter Five: Summary, Conclusion, Recommendations and Suggestions for Further Study
5.1       Summary
5.2       Conclusion
5.3       Recommendations
5.4       Suggestions for Further Research
            Works Cited


1.1       Background to the Study

English is one of the most widely used and spoken languages in the world today. Ferguson in his Foreword to Braj Kachru points out that, ‘… there has never been a single language which spread … over most of the world, as English has done in this century’ (Kachru, ix). According to Charles Barber, English is spoken by well over four hundred million native speakers and roughly about the same member of people speak it as a second language (236). It is also generally said to be a world language because it has spread to other continents of the world through trade, colonization and conquest.

In Nigeria, for instance, English is spoken as a second language. It was first introduced to Nigerians during the middle of the 16th century when the British came to Nigeria for purposes of exploration, trade, and colonization. Before English was introduced to Nigerians, Nigerians had had their native languages, which they used to satisfy their linguistic needs. The introduction and use of English created a contact situation, that is, a situation where two or more languages are used alternatively by an individual. This situation resulted in interference defined by Uriel Weinreich as: ‘… deviation from the norms of either language which occur in the speech of bilinguals as a result of their familiarity with more than one language’ (1).

Going by this long period of usage, it is normal to expect it to develop linguistic features which are different from those of the L1 speakers of the language. Such features which are usually influenced by the mother tongue and the socio-cultural environment have marked out Nigerian English from other varieties of World Englishes. In Nigeria, English has become nativised to accommodate the culture and tradition of the people, and to be able to carry the sensibilities peculiar to Nigerians. It has acquired some local colour, which differentiates it from the native variety used in England and other regions of the world. Inyang Udofot explains that nativisation in the context of the New Englishes entails

The process through which a language external to a community adapts to the culture and languages of the community which uses it as an additional language but retains many features of the language as it is used by the native speakers. In other words, it is a process of integrating a language into the culture of a community where it is used (42).

This process often leads to the development of features at various levels of linguistic analysis that are different from those of L1 speakers of the language. Ayo Bamgbose sees it as ‘innovation in language form and language use’ (16). Such innovations tend to hinder a free flow of information particularly when communication is carried out with the native speakers of English.
Nigerian English has developed its own distinct and unique features due to the mode of acquisition of the language and the Nigerian socio-cultural setting. Some of the speech acts obtained in Nigerian English deviates in meaning from those of the native speakers of English. Thus it is possible to have words with the same morphological shapes expressing different meanings or sometimes attracting additional meanings. Also, certain expressions in Nigerian English are created to depict Nigerian values. These linguistic items and expressions which are peculiar to the Nigerian situation constitute hindrances to intelligibility from the point of view of the L1 speakers of English....

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