Still on the National Language Question: Can the Nigerian Pidgin (NP) Suffice?

Nneka Umera-Okeke


Abstract – Language among other factors has promoted the divide in Nigeria. Nigeria linguistic landscape is overwhelmingly multilingualistic with well over four hundred and fifty identified Babel of tongues. This has a concomitant implication for language question, national language policy and inter-ethnic communication problems in the country. Since the people have no common language, how can they mutually interact? How can Nigerians live in peace, unity and develop sustainably as one entity when none of the indigenous languages has emerged and cannot emerge as a common language? The thesis of this paper, therefore, is that the Nigerian Pidgin (NP) can serve as a National language in Nigeria because its usage transcends ethnicity, educational status and social limitations placed by the English language and our many indigenous tongues. It is against this backdrop that the paper highlighted the features that make Nigerian Pidgin (NP) a universal language devoid of ethnic affiliation, a language that can promote peaceful coexistence, unity and sustainable development, a language that can be trusted by all because as many indigenous languages as possible can act as the substrates and people will still understand and because English, understood by all, remains the lexifier (superstrum) language.
Key Words: Nationhood, identity, National language, substrate, superstrum, lexifier, Nigerian Pidgin

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