A SOCIOLINGUISTIC ANALYSIS OF THE USE OF NIGERIAN PIDGIN FOR INTERACTIONS IN ZARIA MARKETS

A SOCIOLINGUISTIC ANALYSIS OF THE USE OF NIGERIAN PIDGIN FOR INTERACTIONS IN ZARIA MARKETS

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ABSTRACT

The research is a sociolinguistic analysis of the use of Nigerian Pidgin for transactions in Zaria markets. Pidgins are contact vernacular normally not the native language of any speaker in the situation requiring communication between persons who do not speak each other‟s native language. It is characterized by a limited vocabulary and an elimination of many grammatical devices such as number and gender. This research investigates the extent to which buyers and sellers make use of pidgins along with other languages such as Hausa and other varieties of English which are widely spoken in Samaru and Sabo Gari markets. It also investigates whether there is any significant impact of switching and mixing codes and Nigerian Pidgin for interactions in the selected markets. The study adopts the anthropological approach by Hymes (1974) as its theoretical framework using “ethnography of communication”. The methodology used to collect data for this study includes audio-tape recording and questionnaire. The population for this study comprises some traders that own shops and buyers who patronize Samaru and Sabon Gari markets in Kaduna State. Ten (10) transaction sessions were recorded andfour hundred and sixty-eight (468) copies of questionnaire were administered to the buyers and sellers in both markets by direct contact.The data collected were analysed using arithmetic calculation and Kejrice and Morgan (1970) method respectively. The analysis revealed the extent to which Nigerian Pidgin is used in the market and concludes that Nigerian Pidgin is a language for effective communication in the markets. Also, the findings show that, the native speakers of Hausa and other indigenous languages communicate in Nigerian Pidgin by code-switching and code-mixing.

 CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

This research focuses on the use of Nigerian Pidginas a means of communication in Samaru

and Sabo Gari markets. The research was motivated by the observation that the use of

Nigerian Pidgin is prevalent in both markets which are located in Zaria, Kaduna State,

Nigeria. It must however be noted that, NigerianPidgin is not the only language spoken in the

markets. Other indigenous languages (Igbo, Yoruba, etc) as well as Standard English, Broken

English and Hausa, the language of the immediate environment are also spoken there.

However, the use of Nigerian Pidgin in these markets is very important because different

people of different linguistic backgrounds patronize the market, and need to understand one

another. Interaction is sometimes achieved through code-mixing and code-switching of the

languages to increase and enhance sales.

Nigerian Pidgincommunication between people in a society is highly important, thus

individuals in a society relate and communicate with each other using the language. The

universality and diversity of speech has led to a significant inference that language is an

immensely ancient heritage of the human race, whether or not all forms of speech are the

historical outgrowth of a single pristine form. Communication among people who speak the

same language is possible because they share the same common language, (Rajend et

al.2000).The expression of the complex communicative needs of people is enhanced by their

use of language, which enables understanding among a people who share the same linguistic

identity.Edward Sapir defines language as „…a purely human and non-instinctive method of

communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of voluntarily produced symbols‟

(Sapir 1921:6). Sapir stresses that language is the institution whereby human beings

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communicate ideas, emotions and desires as well as interact with each other by means of

habitual oral auditory and arbitrary symbols.When individuals of different backgroundsare

forced to interact with each other, a simplified language derived from two or more languages

is developedand such resultant language is called a pidgin.Pidgins are simplified languages

made up of parts of two or more languages used as a communication tool between speakers,

who do not have a common language and which help to sustain interaction in a community.

Labov (1936), one of the pioneers in Sociolinguistics, notes that code-switching takes place

in individual utterances, and that speakers form and establish a pidgin language when two or

more speakers do not speak a common language. In speech communities like Samaru and

Sabon Gari markets in Zaria, communication takes place in a unique way by code-switching

and code-mixing between speakers of two or more languages,and Nigerian Pidgin is used

especially by traders to facilitate economic and business transactions. Thus traders tend to use

thisform of language in the market to aid communication and to promote sales. The value of

pidgin in Nigeria as a sociolinguistic variable is of great importance as it is spoken in the

market among buyers and sellers to promote trade. It also serves as a language of wider

communication between people of different ethnic groups as noted in a market situation. This

is why pidginsreceive great attention because of the socio-economic benefits it offers to the

educated and illiterate in the country.

There is the growing data that shows the important roleusers have accorded Nigerian Pidgin

as used in social interaction and for business transactions among people of different

languages. In spite of the traditional attitude of disapproval towardspidgins, it still flourishes

in commercial and social activities where different ethnic groups come together to transact

business. The relevance of in Nigerian Pidgin in the success ofbusiness transactions in these

markets (Samaru and Sabon Gari) where people from different linguistic backgrounds

converge to buy or sell makes the use of pidginsimportant. It is from this background that the

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present study seeks to analyse the prominence of Nigerian Pidgin used along with other

languages in both Samaru and Sabon Gari markets speech interactions of buying and selling.

1.2 Statement of the Research Problem

Language is used for the purpose of communication between individuals. When a common

language is lacking, communication becomes a problem.Thisstudy attempts to contribute to


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