This essay focused on the pragmatic features of Nigeria English as
used in literatures, using the selected poems of Bayo Adebowale as a
case study, to see how these pragmatic features have helped in
projecting Nigerian cultures and worldviews in Nigerian literary works.
The pragmatic features identified by Adedimeji (2007) were used in
analysing the poems of Bayo Adebowale selected for this study and each
feature was used across board. It was discovered from the analysis that
the peculiar cultures, traditions and philosophies of Nigerians,
represented by the poet – Bayo Adebowale, were reflected in the selected
poems which were written in English through the pragmatic features of
Nigerian English present in these poems. Thus, if the English language
used in Nigeria (Nigerian English) has been nativised to exhibit
features such as the pragmatic features to enable the language project
Nigerian cultures, identities, philosophies and worldviews, then,
Nigerian English should not be considered as a deviation but rather a
variation of World English.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.0 Statement of the Research Problem
1.1 Aims and Objectives
1.2 Scope of the Study
1.4 Bayo Adebowale: Biographical Sketch
2.2 Some Major Contributors to the Development of Pragmatics
2.2.1 John Lanshaw Austin
2.2.2 John Searle
2.2.3 H.P. Grice
2.2.4 K. Bach & R. M. Harinsh
2.3 Nigerian English
2.4 Varieties Differentiation of Nigerian English
2.5 Pragmatic features of Nigerian English
3.1 Analysis of the Selected Poems
Summary, Findings and Conclusion
4.1 Research Findings
1.0 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
English language is a language that is foreign to the Nigerian
environment, it came with the British colonialists, but after the
departure of the colonialists in Nigeria, English language continued to
flourish. The survival of English language in Nigerian environment is
not by luck, but because it has been nativised to suit Nigerian
environment and meet the need of the Nigerian users of English
The origin of English language in Nigeria can be traced to 1553, when
Britons visited the coastal areas of Nigeria for slave trade. The means
of communication between the Nigerian traders and the Britons, then,
was in Pidgin English. With the abolition of slave trade, British
explorers started moving beyond the coastal areas, penetrating deep into
Nigeria to promote ‘legitimate trade’ (Alabi, 2003:177). The British
traders were followed by Christian missionaries who came with the aim of
evangelising Nigeria. These missionaries established mission schools
where English was taught primarily to enable the converts read the Bible
in English and help the missionaries in the activities of the Church.
Around 1900, the Northern and southern protectorates of Nigeria came
under the rule of Great Britain and the British colonial government
established schools to complement those of the missionaries. Thus,
through formal education and government policies on education that made
English the language of instruction in schools, English language became
formalised and was able to spread in Nigeria.
In 1960, when Nigeria gained her independence, the colonial masters
left, but their language – English did not leave. It has remained and
survived alongside the indigenous languages. In fact, Bamgbose (1971:35)
believes that English language is unarguably the most important asset
the British colonialist gave to Nigeria due to its functions as the
official language and lingual franca in Nigeria, to mention a few of its
It is however no doubt that the English used in Nigeria, called
Nigerian English, has certain features distinguishing it from other
varieties of English used elsewhere in the world. These features include
phonology, morpho-syntactic, lexico-semantic and pragmatic.
This essay shall attempt to look at the pragmatic features of
Nigerian English, which are the aspects that reflect the cultures,
traditions and philosophies of Nigerians, as used in Nigerian
literatures using the selected poems of Bayo Adebowale as a case study.
This essay shall also attempt to provide answers to research questions
- Which pragmatic features of Nigeria English can be found in the selected poems?
- How has the pragmatic features of Nigerian English present in
Nigerian literatures contributed to the meaningfulness of these literary
works and creativity of Nigerian writers, using the selected poems of
Bayo Adebowale as a case study?
- Should Nigerian English, because of its pragmatic features, be regarded as deviation from or variation of World English?
1.1 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
This research aims to investigate how the pragmatic features of
Nigerian English convey the cultures and traditions of Nigerians, using
the selected poems of Bayo Adebowale as a case study. The objectives of
this research are:
- To investigate the presence of the pragmatic features of Nigerian English in the selected poems of Bayo Adebowale.
- To examine how the pragmatic features of Nigerian English have been
deployed by Nigerian writers to enhance the meaningfulness of their
- To see how these pragmatic features of Nigerian English have
contributed to the creativity of Nigerian writers, using Bayo Adebowale
as a case study.
- To develop an empirical viewpoint on whether Nigerian English is a deviation from or variation of World English.
- To see how language can be affected by the environment in which it is used.
1.2 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The peculiar features of Nigerian English include phonological,
morpho-syntactic, lexico-semantic and pragmatic. This research shall
focus on the pragmatic features of Nigerian English as used in Nigerian
literary works using the selected poems of Bayo Adebowale as a case
study. The pragmatic features of Nigerian English have been identified
by scholars like Akere (1978), Bamgbose (1995), Adedimeji (2007), etc.
This research shall employ the pragmatic features of Nigerian English
identified by Adedimeji (2007) in analysing the selected poems of Bayo
The attempt at nativising English language in Nigeria according to
Bamgbose (1995:20), has three aspects: linguistics, pragmatic and
creative. The first aspect, linguistics, has received a lot of attention
from scholars like Odumuh (1981), Adegbija (1989), Jowitt (1991),
Bamiro (1994), etc. while to the best of the researcher’s knowledge, not
much has been done on the pragmatic aspect on which the third,
creative, depends. This study shall therefore focus on the pragmatic
aspect but it will be different from other works on pragmatic features
like those of Akere (1978), Adetugbo (1986), Bamgbose (1995) and so on
because it will concentrate on the pragmatic aspect of Nigerian English
as used in Nigerian literatures.
Also, language and culture are said to be interwoven, because
language conveys the cultures of its users. Therefore, the researcher is
embarking on this research to see how the English (a foreign language)
used in the Nigerian environment has been able to reflect the cultures
of its Nigerian users.
This research will be of use to other researchers on Nigerian
English, linguists and other individuals interested in the field of
1.4 BAYO ADEBOWALE: BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Bayo Adebowale, a poet, novelist, short story writer, critic and
Librarian, was born on the 6th of June, 1944 in Adeyipo village, Lagelu
Local Government Area of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. He attended St.
Andrew Primary School, Bamgbola, Igbo – Elerin district of Ibadan for
the primary school education; Local Authority Secondary Modern school,
Aperin, Ibadan for the secondary school education. Upon graduation, he
served as pupil teacher before gaining admission into Baptist College
Ede in 1967. As a student in Baptist College, Ede, Bayo Adebowale served
as the editor of the school magazine The Echo. In 1971, he was
admitted to read English at the University of Ibadan, where he
graduated with Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in English in 1974.
He worked in the Western State Public Commission as an education
officer (English) before taking to the job of lecturing at Oyo State
College of Education, Ila Orangun in 1987. When Osun State was created
out of the old Oyo state, he was redeployed to the Polytechnic, Ibadan,
where he, at various times, became a Senior Principal Lecturer, Head of
Department, Acting Dean and Deputy Rector between 1999 – 2003. He
completed his PhD in Literature in English language at the University of
Ilorin in May, 1997.
Bayo Adebowale has published many poems, short stories and novels. His short story – The River Goddess won the Western State Festival of Arts Literary Competition in Ibadan, Nigeria in 1972. His poem Perdition, won
the African Prize in Index on Censorship International Poetry
Competition in London in 1992. He is an advocate of the grass root
people and most of his works focus on rural life. In line with his
passion for rural life, he established the African Heritage Research
Library at Adeyipo village in Ibadan, which is the first rural community
– based African studies research library on the continent.
Some of his works include The Virgin, Out of his Mind (novels), A Night of Incantations and other Poems, Village Harvest(poems), The River Goddess (short story) to mention a few.
In this introductory chapter, the research problem was stated, the
research questions, which this essay shall attempt to provide answers
to, were also stated. The aims and objectives, the scope including the
justification of this research were identified. A brief biographical
sketch of the author whose works will be used as case study in this
research was also provided in this chapter. The next chapter shall be
the review of relevant literatures.