WHY STUDENTS MUST BEWARE!
1.Pidgin English is a simplified Language in English used between people not having a common language. It was used originally between the Chinese and Europeans. Pidgin English is used all over the world with variations to be found in different countries and between communities.
2. Our aim is not to deride Pidgin English but to instruct you that you must not use Pidgin Language in school and that you must as students be determined not to allow pidgin to enslave you. The reason is that your frequent use of Pidgin will affect your usage of “regular English” – especially the consonants. e.g. the use of “DEM” for “THEM”. Let us define regular English here as the one stipulated by the WAEC or NECO and scheme of work which you must pass otherwise your academic progress in our society will be delayed.
3. The WAEC scheme of work is based on what is usually called “Queen’s English”. It is the form of English that is acceptable to the educated and business class of England. It is not exactly the English spoken by the English “natives” who live in the interior or village communities in England. It is the English passed to us “officially” by English when Nigeria was its colony. It is slightly different from the Computer English of today definitely, severely modified by the Americans who regard themselves as cousins in the main to the English. It is possible that in future the WAEC scheme of work in English might be amended beyond mere acceptance of computer jargons. But as at today our effort as a school and your response as students should be close to the standards acceptable to our educational examination bodies.
4. Nigerian students of today are confronted on one side by local Pidgin, by American pidgin through films and by West Indian Pidgin through music. The average Nigerian child today for all we know could be said to be a bundle of confusion in terms of English Language especially if not properly guided by his or her school.
5. During the colonial period of Nigeria, Pidgin English was regarded by our English masters as a Language fit only for their boys quarters.
6. Even in America today the English spoken by many blacks is seen as “downtown” language. It is useful for entertainment on the T.V but less useful for doing business on the New York Stock Exchange. Some of you will be studying or working abroad in future. Definitely you will need to pay more attention to your use of regular English. The Harlem (Ajegunle of New York) English will not be useful to you in high income jobs. You must therefore seriously consider what you are being told today.
Historically some events have contributed to the growth or use of Pidgin language in Nigeria. These include:
7. The need to communicate with Europeans by those on the coastal parts of Nigeria when they came with The Bible and later the Slave Trade.
8. The withdrawal or mass exodus of English colonial officers just before and after the independence of Nigeria.
9. The downturn in the Nigeria economy and the disappearance of the middle class with the attendant breakdown in social and family values.
10. The emergence of churches and the use of Pidgin English to evangelize people or worship God.
11. The music of Fela which had general acceptance all over the country and was not limited to his tribe or language stock.
12. The adoption of Pidgin English by university students who are the products of the new conditions in the Nigerian society.
Mrs. Tope Shotade an old student of our school ( but now an English Language graduate and ex-News Editor at the Lagos State Television Service) had this to say as part of the disadvantages of using Pidgin English indiscriminately:
13. “In a changing world where English Language is becoming generally used by everyone and associated with good literary communication, even in third world countries like Nigeria, the use of Pidgin especially by students shows your economical and social status. Generally, educated people look down on pidgin speakers as being uneducated and people without comfortable upbringing. The pidgin language cannot be taken to prestigious organizations without it affecting the judgement of the people about you”.
14. “In a phonological sense where standard English consonants differ from that of the indigenous language consonants “Them” becomes “Dem” “something” becomes “sometin” or” sontin”.
15. “In the grammatical aspect, pidgin teaches you to say “ I dey come” instead of “I’ll be back”. This has led to the use of phrases like “I am coming” which is commonly used in Nigeria to mean “i will be back” but is wrong grammatically.
16. “Another aspect is that as human beings we often think faster than we write and it is not possible if you do not have perfect understanding of English to write it because the brain has to sort out your thoughts in the language that is clear to you for your own understanding. This goes to show that any language learnt affects the way you think. For example when you are deeply rooted in Pidgin English and you see a light bulb and want to express the desire to switch it off the simplest way that comes to your mind is to “off” it. And this is expressed just as it is thought “I want to off the light”. “I saw your letter” is another example.
17. “Finally it does not allow for growth of English Language because standard English language is of high quality and it is not possible to use substandard expressions continuously. Instead the usage of Pidgin English tends to diminish your effort at proper English language as you go on and finally corrupts your WAEC/NECO English entirely”.
18. Schools should wage continuous war on the slavery of students by pidgin English. Punitive measures attached to the use of Pidgin English should be raised to preventive levels.
19. English Tutors too need to decide on which side of the fence they want to be. Students should,however, know that pidgin is not bad in itself. There are places and occasions you cannot avoid using it. For instance, if you go to the local market Pidgin English will be more relevant.Or if you are on a net forum and there is need for group identities the use of pidgin from your country will most likely lubricate your engine of understanding and cohesion.
20. However, in your school and probably in many homes and definitely in your external examinations Pidgin English is not proper or useful.
21.Do not allow your mates to continue enslaving you by making Pidgin English attractive to you. Sometimes you speak it on impulse because the others do it. At other times you do so because you don’t want to be left out. You want to be part of the ‘in crowd’ or “its happening group”. But it will get you nowhere as you grow up into a professional person and especially in sectors where you have to display the finer aspects of your upbringing. We therefore urge you to kill the longing in you to continuously use Pidgin English today…okay,at least till your WAEC/NECO/JAMB exams are over.