Friday, November 12, 2010

The power of pidgin English

Pidgin English, the lingua franca of West Africa, is finally coming of age.  Formalising pidgin in Nigeria, as I’ve said many times, would have tremendous positive ramifications, in terms of civic enfranchisement and effectiveness of communications.  In terms of education, either using pidgin or local languages has to be the way to go.  The only minor issue I have with the initiative mentioned here is the idea that pidgin can be renamed as “languej”.  Pidgin is pidgin, and no funded-project is going to change that.


Naijamum 6:03 pm  

Pidgin English has always been the number language for my part of Nigeria (Edo/Delta). This is because the old Bendel state was a melting pot of different languages.
Unfortunately,it is stil associated with the uneducated or the 'lower classes' and I have 'friends' who still snigger when I speak pidgin English.
I choose to ignore them because this is the only language that can be spoken comfortably when Nigerians from different tribes are gathered.
However, I must say that pidgin English is very fluid, with new words emerging everyday, depending on the area it is spoken..i.e. to eat is generally called 'chop' but in Warri it is referred to as 'lem' these differences might also need to be highlighted

Anonymous,  9:06 pm  

Actually, the article clearly states why a pidgin may not be pidgin.

Languej sounds dodgy sha.

Dibussi 10:15 pm  

Not everyone shares the view that Pidgin English is worth the trouble. In neighboring Cameroon for example, Pidgin is banned at the University of Buea, the country's lone English language university. In fact, there are signs all over campus warning students against the evils of English. You can see some of those signs here:

and here:

The nitty-gritty tales of a housewife 2:51 am  

N-a-y! i don't support the idea that it should be made our lingua franca & used in would clash with the standard english language spoken internationally ..& like what Naijamum said, it depends in which area it is just comes with the flow...waffi pidgin is quite halirious than the Lag type...i prefer it being spoken as it is now...gisting with friends & family.

Myne Whitman 6:45 am  

Isn't it interesting that it is the French sponsoring the Akademi? The spellings of languej and and akedemi had spoilt everything

Jaycee 7:28 pm  

I just hope the formal name 'Pidgin' is not changed. Pidgin is pidgin, there can be no better way to describe it.

Brother 1:54 pm  

Nay? Yay! Well said and spotted.

We need to be more Afrocentric. Language should be most effective in communicating thoughts and ideas in their simplest and truest forms.

Since we have lost the authentic Africa, needs must consciously evolve our own thoughts and forms of expression; arts, sciences yadi yada.. No better thing needing encouragement than actual African communication.

Thinking in English, took me a while to understand that I was, as with a fair few of my generation, an African Englishman. My great-grandpapi and I wouldnt understand each other, or our conception of things, the very forms would be alien. And so the ethnic languages also relate to each other.. This is already an authentic organic living African language.

To even think of English? Then why not Arabic? Or Chinese. The issue is colonial. If some must think in English in Africa, not all can nor will. There must be a meeting point between English and Arabic and all the other African languages. Just as there has never and can never be an authentic Nigeria in distinction to the very authentic Naija evolving we see in evolution, pidgin or naija languej can only be encouraged. It is already 600 years old. About time we start to steer it towards the communication of serious ideas.

Those who would see it as a lowest common denominator, would see themselves as European upperclass, which is not in nature with Africa. Truth is nothing so easily spans nor conveys the true joys, emotions and love of African peoples. This is a language which spans geography, but also social classes, not just in Naija but across Africa. It is time to elevate it and aid its evolution.

Owi 6:55 am  

I fully support any action that will encourage the adoption of pigin as the Lingua franca of Nigeria. I believe this will go a long way in establishing a deep sense of nationhood and unity. There are many formal works of literature that were written purely in pigin: Shoyinkas "Beatification of area boy" and Ehi Agboayes "wakaman revolution" just to mention a few.

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