This project is an attempt to explore the recurring grave concerning
the academic performance of students. Though a large percentage of
students in Nigeria learn English as a second language and are
instructed in it, the Nigerian pidgin seems to interfere with their
acquisition of the language and their performance in it much more than
their mother tongues. The impact of pidgin contributes in no small
measure to the dismal performance of students in their academic career
Nigeria is a multilingual country with four hundred indigenous
languages, out of which three are regarded as major ones, namely:
Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, representing the three major geo-political
zones - North, East and South respectively. Despite this fact, Nigerian
Pidgin is used in diverse degrees in different parts of the country and it
has become a lingua franca for many, while it is a Creole in some
Southern and Eastern States like Rivers, Lagos, Delta, Edo, and Cross
Rivers. Marchese and Schnkal (1980) confirm this after a major
evolution in the Delta area of Nigeria, they say; "... in a particular part
of Nigeria, the areas around Warri and Sapele, Nigerian pidgin is more
of a Creole. Creole is a mixture of an European language with a local language and is spoken as a first language.
Some view it as a variety of English, while others see it as a
distinct language. A look at the structure of Nigerian pidgin (NP)
portrays that it has structures and patterns of behaviour of its own.
Though at its initial stage, NP was considered the language of those who
could not speak good English, but many know better now. It is
therefore, no wonder that it is not only used by undergraduates in
Nigerian universities during conversation with the uneducated public,
but it has become a fascinating medium of casual exchange among students
themselves. Fisherman (1997) asserts that; "no language considered
inferior is aptly logical". This is because where two or more speech
communities come in contact, a lingua franca or common language of
communication emerges. He further points out that it is the social
situation use popularly known as context that affects the
morpho-syntactic pattern of a language. Since pidginisation, according
to Hymes (1971:84), is a "complex process of Sociolinguistics", we shall
now consider the use of Nigerian Pidgin English among students of
Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The term pidgin is used to refer to a language which develops in a
situation where speakers of different languages have a need to
communicate but do not share a common language. Once a pidgin has
emerged, it is generally learned as a second language and used for
communication among people who speak different languages.
Language is the most creative and unlimited instrument for social
communication and it helps us to understand the deep seated social
relevance, culture involvement and the human relatedness of language.
Having said this, we can therefore agree that pidgin is a language of
its own and not just a supplementary tongue as some people see it, since
it serves as an unlimited instrument of social communication especially
in a multilingual society like Nigeria.
Linton (1982) states that "the culture of a society is the way of
life of its members, the collection of ideas and habits which they
learn, share and transmit from generation to generation". These
cultures, ideas and habits can only be transmitted from generation to
generation through language. In Linguistics, every language is
considered adequate to represent the communicative needs of its people
as such should not be made to suffer any biases.
This cannot be said of Nigerian Pidgin - even though it is a language
because various attempts have been made by different factions to
eradicate the use of Nigerian Pidgin English. These attempts have
however been unsuccessful because of the significant value the language
has to its users. It is a language that has brought people together in
spite of their differences in ancestral culture and language by creating
a local culture for itself which blends ideas from different cultures.
Moreover, this use of Pidgin as a lingua Franca affects many
Nigerians in academic careers, especially, those students that come from
the environments where it is spoken.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
It is very pertinent to note that what actually started as an
"emergency language" between the white merchants, to ease communication
with the natives has now become "an elitist campus language" spoken
among the teeming population of the Nigerian students in higher
institutions of learning, thereby overlapping the standard English to
such an extent that the students’ competence is impaired.
1.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This Study is important because its results can go a long way in
finding out the causes of students'' competence. This work will in no
doubt contribute to one''s knowledge, especially in the Department of
English, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto as it will highlight some
issues in relation to written English. It will be a guide for the
effective educational system.
1.4 AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
This research is carried out to examine the effect of Pidgin English
on students’ competence. It is a fact that students deviate from the
norms of codified English in most of their essays and communications.
The following are the set of objectives to be achieved
a. To show the impact of Nigerian Pidgin in a University Community; using 300 level students of MELL
b. To assess the extent of its popularity and the communicative situation within which it is used.
c. To show who uses Pidgin and for what purpose?
1.5 JUSTIFICATIONS FOR THE STUDY
Prior to this time, a lot of works and research have been done on NP
as a language of wider communication in Nigeria. However, its impact on
the students is worth investigating. This work will attempt to reveal
the fact that the Nigerian pidgin which was initially used as a medium
of communication by particular group of people and for specific purpose
has gradually come to be used in institutions of higher learning
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This research work will attempt to investigate the impact of Pidgin
English on the University community, though it focuses on the Students
of UDU, Sokoto (300level MELL) with a view to providing detailed
information on the impact of NP on the performance of the students