1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Since the arrival of English language on the Nigerian soil about one and a half centuries ago, attempts have been made at various times to describe the variety of English spoken and written by Nigerians. The assumptions range from Standard British English (SBE), to Educated West African English (EWE), to Standard American English (SAE), and then, to Standard Nigerian English (SNE) (Babatunde, 2002). Of all these varieties, the candidate that appears to have gained prominence in the Nigerian sociolinguistic terrain, particularly, from the time the Nigeria gained independence as a nation from its former colonial masters, is the Standard British English (SBE) variety. The reason is obvious: Nigeria was an offshoot of British colonial and missionary occupation, and so, the basic language of communication used in governance, trade, education and other purposes was mainly English. This explains why testing and evaluation of academic performance in Nigerian institutions of learning have been modelled after Standard British English, the RP.
However, studies like Banjo (1971,1993), Adetugbo (1977, 2004), Jibril (1979,1982), Eka (1985,2000), Jowitt (1991), Awonusi (2004) and Josiah (2009, 2011), among numerous others, have adequately proved that using RP as a spoken model for Nigerians is merely an exercise that lacks basic justification since the variety of English spoken in Nigeria (just as in any other L2 environment) cannot be said to be truly British. In fact, judging from available documentary evidences so far, most Nigerians do not speak British English. As an extension to this primer observation, there are several unique features that distinguish the spoken variety of English in Nigeria from RP. This agrees with Jowitt‟s (1991) observation that the English language (particularly in an L2 environment like Nigeria) has defied nature by undergoing „gynaechological re-processing‟. This is why it is necessary to undertake a study of this nature to further investigate into the pattern of an regional acculturated or a hybridized version of the English language spoken by Nigerians institutions, Sokoto State university as a case study; and then propose what language teachers and examination bodies should attempt to do to improve learners‟ performance in classroom situation.
In a nutshell, this study will reexamine the pattern of educated spoken English in Nigeria using the university students in the country as exponents Sokoto state university students precisely. It will examine the spoken speeches of the respondents used for the study and isolates specific „Nigerians‟ in those utterances in an attempt to provide some teaching models for applied linguists to work with in an ESL classroom. It observes that the patterns of spoken English existing among the respondents used reflects the concept proposed by Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf in what is usually referred to as “linguistic determinism and cultural relativity”: that the cultural milieu of a linguistic environment influences, and thereby determines to a large extent, the type of language that would exist.
Therefore, this study will findout the regional/environment variation of Nigerian Spoken English (NSE).
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