The Nigerian English Is "correct": A Semi-critical Analysis Of Where And When

You are going to stop laughing at people for saying "i saw your missed call."

Have you ever felt the urge or even laugh at someone who made a grammatical error or mistake? It is possible to state that almost 70% of Nigerians have laughed or scoffed when another made grammatical errors. It is pretty normal. I mean, if my siblings saw a grammatical error in this article, they would laugh at me, the English graduate.

Some of this laughing comes from the knowledge of simple British English, as against Nigerian English. But what if you are wrong to laugh at them or us when we say things like: “You can pay to install mentally.” Although some people feel like it is wrong to laugh at people trying to speak the English language, they are, more often than we know, correct. Why are they correct then? It turns out that the “English” that they speak is a variety and is correct at some times and places.

Correspondingly, Nigerian English is a variety of the English language spoken by Nigerians. While many definitions abound, I believe that the Nigerian English language is a combination of nativized English language, loan words, American English, and those generational errors. Nigerian English is often degraded because it is distinct from British English.

What many people overlook is the fact that Nigerian English is Nigerians’ contribution to the English language. For example, “I saw your missed call” is a syntactic expression that is said to be wrong on so many levels. Yet it makes perfect sense to the Nigerian. Then the question one might ask is (which I’m asking you), if it makes sense, is conventional, and is mutually intelligible, why is it wrong? Shouldn’t there be times where it can be correct and geographical locations and settings where it can be correct?

In terms of “where” (setting), Nigerian English is correct in non-formal and even semi-formal gatherings or conversations. Most times, it is used (and then correctly) on formal occasions for comedic relief. Think of when you go to the market and you, a polished lady or gentleman, communicate and haggle with the trader in perfect Nigerian Pidgin. That is the kind of state that the Nigerian English exist in. It is correct when applied outside strict environments that call for the Standard British/American English to be applied like schools, offices and when talking to your “destiny helper.”

So you can tell your friend that he should head “for the extreme end” at home, but your students (assuming you teach secondary school students that will be ready to laugh at you), you tell him to head to the “extreme.” Now, when (the time) Nigerian English can be correct is when it is spoken to people who understand it. This means that if I understand that “My spirit is telling me” should be, “I have a hunch,” then you are correct. Also, it is correct when it is the most accurate dialect to articulate a cultural phenomenon unique to Nigerians. It is a fine line between communicating in Nigerian Pidgin or communicating in British/American Standard English.

There are just some things that the English language, as spoken by the British and Americans, cannot capture in Nigeria. Based on this, Nigerian English becomes the choice option in terms of function and aesthetics. Yet, our people will laugh at you because you say “Nepa has taken light” instead of “There is a power outage” So, are you correct for laughing at even yourself or us when you articulate in Nigerian English? Yes, but only when Nigerian English is spoken at certain times and in certain places. And this is only because Nigerian English is not yet recognized and standardized: even though over 53% of Nigerians speak English (Nigerian English at best).

Finally, it is a good trait to communicate in Standard British/American English, but a bad trait to completely knock the Nigerian English. Because it is correct in its own right, at certain times and places, so, imagine if Americans knocked their dialect of the English language. Then today, Britain would be only Standard English. They appreciated the ability of their own English to capture their unique situation. I mean, British people have not seen the Godlike power of NEPA and PHCN, so they just say, “power outage.” But we do, so we say, “NEPA has taken light.”

View all 4 likes

Create An Ad Like Th...

Give your skills and business more visibility with NairaPen Ads. We'll...

View details
Dr Abiodun Anifow...

You may also like

Birth And Growth

This brief article about birth and growth will equip you with some strategies on how your...

Hananiya Karabi
2 years ago

Your Identity

Until you know who you are, why you are here and how to arrive at your destination then I'...

Gloria Ozioma
2 years ago


Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb on the third day afte...

Ocheni Emmanuel S...
1 year ago

What I Didn't Know (chapt...

What I didn't know is a novella about a young girl's life that revolves around her autisti...

Oluwatoyin Odunuy...
1 year ago

Classification Of Human B...

No, this isn't biology... Since the beginning of time (I think), human beings have always...

Blossom Chukwuma
2 years ago
Comments (0)

There are currently no comments for this article. Be the first to comment.

Support this Writer
Secured Payment in Dollars