1.1 Background of study
According to (Akwanya, 2010), language has often been identified as the most unique attribute of man and without language, there is no society. Language does not only bring meanings to the world, it also shape one’s cognitive process. Such as perception, interpretation and judgment. Also according to William (1992) he agrees that language embodies the spirit of people who speak it also that grammatical forms have influence on the development of ideas.
Although English language is the country’s official language, it is also a second language because Nigerians already had their first language that is their mother tongue (li) before the invasion of the foreign language “English language” into the country. English language did not come to Nigeria on its own. Its movement into Nigeria was caused by a lot of factors like trading, slavery colonization and missionary activities and this also led to the existence of pidgin language23 that is rampart all over the world but mainly in Nigeria.
The origins of Pidgin English
Pidgin English or broken English (as it is called) originated during the slave trade era as a means of communication between the Europeans and the Africans. It was the language used in their business transaction in the seventeenth century. It is a continuousseries of English Pidgins and creoles spoken by other West-African countries such as Cameroon, Sierra Leone and Ghana.
In the 19th century, undocumented laborers from China, Portugal, Japan, the Philippines, Korea, and many other nations were brought to work on plantations, alongside Hawaiians that were owned and operated by Caucasian North Americans. Pidgin Hawaiian was the first Pidgin to develop on plantation in the 19th century, for Hawaiian was the main language of interethnic communication in schools and society until 1875, when the Reciprocity treaty with the United States was signed. Due to their spontaneous adaptability, Pidgins are unlike other languages in that they can be as structured or as unstructured as needed. Pidgins are not used as mother tongues, although over time and generations, the language evolves is adopted and changes gradually to become first language for new generation
Historically this occurs in situations where native language is seen as coordinate, or banned in the case of slavery, and is the point where Pidgin arguably moves to become a creek, or a normalized language. Scholars debated up till now, to what point can Pidgin language evolve to become a Creole and replace a native language over the generations. Complicated staff for such a seemingly simple language set.
The Nigerian Pidgin English is a version of English and Ethic Nigerian languages spoken as a kind of lingua Franca across Nigeria and is referred to as “Broken English” or even Broken bottle” it is estimated that Nigerian Pidgin English is the native language of approximate 3 to 5 million people and is a second language for at least another 75 million people. English introduced to Nigeria during the colonial era, was chosen as Nigeria’s only official language. However not all the English spoken in Nigeria is the Standard English recognizable in most English-speaking countries. A new way of speaking and interacting among non-native speaker has developed with its own unique pronunciation and vocabulary. This form of communication is Nigerian Pidgin English also referred to as Pidgin by the speakers. Although Pidgin English has been badly misunderstood by many English language experts as being dirty. It doesn’t stop anybody who speaks it to. ICONS like felaAnikulapa- kuti have been misunderstood but that didn’t stop him from singing all his afro beats with Pidgin English.
A1though pidgin is not recognized in national development, Pidgin English has been growing fast since its inception. In essence, two languages spoken commonly in Nigeria especially in inter-ethnic situations are English language and Pidgin English (Gani-Kilama, 1992). In the case of English language even though it is found in every part of the country it is restricted to those who have formal education. As for Pidgin English, not only is it found in every part of the country but it is also spoken by people of all classes weather they are illiterates or formally educated. Elugbe and Omamar (1991) discuss the use of Pidgin English in academic by some lecturers and students.
The problem of most writers is direct translation of their mother tongue while writing. Writing skill is a higher order skill and it has to be taught formally in the school. In writing, the following are to be considered:
• A range of vocabulary
• Mechanical accuracy
• Using a range of sentence structure
• Linking of ideas across sentence to develop a topic
• Developing and organizing the contents
The above mentioned items which are to be considered while writing cannot be achieved without speaking this is because writing cannot be achieved without speaking. Most people assume that one writes what one speaks. According to Ogbueli (2003) he enumerated some factors which language learners contend with. These factors include; the interference phenomenon, unavailability of spoken medium, conflicting theories of English as a second language and use of pidgin. Another factor is the unavailability of the spoken medium. The students are not exposed to the spoken medium of the language. Learning a language is expedient when a learner begins with the spoken variety. The variety carries all emotional and cultural nuances of the language and4therefore, makes creativity in the writing medium easier.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Pidgin is a language of its own just as Standard English language. Though Nigerian pidgin appeared to be the most popular means of communicating with some groups and its easier to learn than any other language in the country. It is generally known that pidgin is not the suitable language to use in formal setting. Therefore, its use in formal setting is usually not accepted, contrary to the situation above, learnersuse pidgin while interacting with each other and at the same time adopts the socio-linguistic behavior of code-switching. Code switching is a linguistic process whereby an individual switch from one language to another within a single speech event. This seems to influence the English language writing skills of Ebonyi State University students. These Pidgin English has deprived plenty of students the ability to be conversant with the Standard English that is indispensable among Nigerian students. Every student needs a proper understanding of the English language in order to perform in any courses of study excellently.
1.3 Purpose of Study
The general purpose of the study is to examine the influence of pidgin language on student’s English language writing skills.
Specifically, the study intends to find out:
1. Influence of Pidgin English on students understanding of grammatical rules of Standard English.
2. Influence of Pidgin English on student use of standard written English.
3. Influence of Pidgin English on students style of writing Standard English.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The study of the influence of Nigerian pidgin on Ebonyi State University students. English language writing skills will be of benefit to the student, the English teacher, the curriculum planner and the government also the society. It is expected to improve the ability of the students to interact effectively in their written English language. The teaching of GST 101 should be looked into in other to enhance/improve good English and to create awareness for the student and the lecturer about the endangerment and harm pidgin language is causing in our society and schools.
Curriculum planners are expected to develop curricula that will tackle/solve the problem of code mixing pidgin with Standard English language by students: The society will see the need to improve in English language by embarking on intervention programme or seminar necessary to enable the students handle the Nigerian pidgin differently from the standard English language.
1.5 Scope of Study
This study intends to investigate the influence of Nigeria pidgin on Ebonyi State University students.English language writing skills. Owing to constraints of time, this study is restricted to only the student ofEbonyi State University While the content scope of this study in the influence ofPidgin English onEbonyi State University students English language skills.
1.6 Research Questions
1. What is the effect of Pidgin English on students understanding of grammatical rules of Standard English?
2. To what extent does Pidgin English influence the students performance in the use of standard written English?
3. To what extent does Pidgin English influence students style of writing standard English.