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.
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 (Bamgbose, 1995:1).
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 many functions.
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 like:
- 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 works.
- 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 Adebowale.
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 language.
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