English in Nigeria: a History of Research

←2018. – Vol. 12

Natali Bitko


Kryvyi Rih faculty affiliated with Zaporizhzhja National University

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17721/StudLing2018.12.19-37



One of the advanced areas of the Global English research is that of non-native varieties including Nigerian English (NE) as one of the most representative varieties in Africa. But literature analysis on NE reveals that in spite of the growing interest of linguists to the study of this variety there is no coherent program of its research and description. In this paper, a history of the NE research is traced in the context of the history of English in Nigeria. The aim of the paper is in eliciting the lacunae in overall representation of this variety and in outlining prospects for its further research. Literature analysis makes it possible to distinguish three periods in the description and research of English in Nigeria: pre-linguistic, political and linguistic; these periods correlate with the stages in the history of English in Nigeria. During pre-linguistic period (the end of the 18th c. – the end of the 19th c.) the presence of English in Nigeria and a rather widespread use of English-based pidgins are mentioned in a few works on Western Africa and in rare samples of private correspondence. During political period (the end of the 19th c. – the middle of the 20th c.) English is implemented into educational system, it is gaining recognition in the country, local literature in English is developing, and linguistic debates on the characteristics and status of NE are taking place. During linguistic period investigations of structural and systemic parameters and characteristics of NE are being performed. NE is also included into the program of English worldwide comparative studies (The International Corpus of English). This study shows that there is a hiatus in the area of lexicography, both practical and theoretical. A systematic and comprehensive investigation of the NE evolution is on the research agenda as well.

Key words: Global English, non-native varieties, pidgins, Nigerian English, historical linguistics, lexicography.


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