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1.0      Background of the Study

English language in Nigeria is not the same corpora in native settings. The exact date that English language usage started in Nigeria is not certain. However it is believed that the first contact between British and some ethnic groups in Nigeria was in southern Nigeria. This must have been some period before the Atlantic slave trade. English language in Nigeria is a second language. It is a second language because Nigerians already had their first language or Mother tongue (L1) before the incursion of this foreign language called ‘English’ into the country. In this instance a foreign language (English) left its native environment and met with other languages (Nigerian indigenous languages). It is true that the culture and values of the people are embedded in the language we speak. As such, it is said that ‘language is culture’ and none can be separated from another.

This situation is informed by multiple socio-cultural variables that determine what the Nigerian variety parades at different areas of linguistic analysis: phonology, morpho-syntax lexico-semantics, and pragmatics, among others. Every country in the world has people who make use of languages which help to perform several functions. Nigeria is not an exception.

Nigeria is a country, which has people with diverse languages and cultures. English language is one of the languages spoken in Nigeria and it serves several functions for instance, business transaction, education, administration, the language of the press, the language of entertainment and also the official language.Jowitt sees Nigerian English as the variety that is spoken and written in Nigeria, other than a replica of a native speaker’s variety. This is to assert that the variety which is spoken and written in Nigeria has certain identifiable and distinct indexical markers that distinguish it from the English language varieties elsewhere. In addition, Adetugbo buttresses these views when he asserts that “Nigerian English, as a dialect of the English language has developed its own distinct and probably unique characteristics resulting from the mood of the acquisition of the language by Nigerians and the Nigerian socio-cultural setting in which it is now ”(159).

Nigerian English is a dialect of English spoken in Nigeria. It is based on British English but in recent years, because of increasing contact with the United States of America, some American English words have made their ways into Nigerian English. Additionally, some new words and collocations have emerged from the language, which come from the need to express concepts specific to the culture of the nation (e,g bride price, senior wife).

According to Ogu and Walsh “The varieties of English spoken by educated Nigerians, no matter what their language, have enough features in common to mark off a general type, which may be called Nigerian English”(88). Odumuh subdivides Nigerian English into three dialects arising from the influences of the three major (regional) languages of Nigeria, also referred to as “national languages.” This he categorizes as Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo Englishes. It is these dialect types, he contends, that contribute to feed and enrich the super-ordinate Nigerian English (NE). He also recognizes the immense contributions of written creative literature to the standardization of Nigerian English. He then suggests two ways to approach variety differentiation in Nigerian English: mode (written or spoken) and educational attainment (educated standard, semi-standard and non-standard). He nevertheless agrees that these are not clear-cut demarcations, but rather constitute a continuum of usages (67). Examples of Nigerian English are seen below:

“How was your night?” Nigerian English =Good morning.

“You have added oh!” Nigerian English = you have gained weight!

“Put to bed” Nigerian English = give birth/have a baby.

Lexico-semantics is the lexically or semantically ordered list of words in a language, dialect or socio-lect or a list of terminologies for a specific discipline. At the lexical level, it is observed that there are transfers from the local languages (especially the three major, regional languages: Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa) and mostly from the following areas: music, clothing, indigenous foods, religious beliefs etc. as well as different creative strategies, such as the lexification of acronyms, neologisms and semantic extension.

Talking about lexico-semantic analysis, it means lexis and meaning. It appears to be generally recognized that frequent changes and modifications occur at the lexico-semantic level in the Nigerian English usage. A large number of lexical items and expressions of British Standard English (BSE) have undergone semantic change in Nigerian usage. Some lexical items in Nigerian English are innovated through coinages, compounding, blending process and so many others. Lexis is the stock of words used in a language, it is also known as lexemes. It simply means words. It is present in the lexicon of a language. “lexis are stock of words in a given language, that is, its vocabulary or lexicon”(Jackson and Amvela 48).

The study of lexis is known as lexicology. However, lexis is always found in the context it exists. Lexis actually builds up the word structure of a language. On the other hand, semantics simply means the study of meaning. The researches that have been carried out on semantics by scholars have often bordered on how meaning can be generated in a particular language. “The engine of language is meaning; without meaning, there is no language in fact the essence of language is to generate or convey meaning”(Odebunmi 18) (sic).From the above assertion, it is quite clear that meaning is vital and an integral part of any language. It plays an important role in every language.

Nigerian columnists and editorial writers use English to convey their messages to the audience. Some of their expressions are captured in Nigerian English that is, the Variety of English used in Nigeria. The columnists and editorial writers employ some features of Nigerian English while they write, and they are always conscious of the fact that there is a Nigerian English. For Example:“…you were simply a long throat.” By Anu Adelakun  in Vanguard Newspaper on Feb 4th 2016.

It is from this kind of experiential background that this research work has decided to focus on the lexico-semantic analysis of the features of Nigerian English in Newspapers: A Study in Vanguard, Punch and Daily Trust.

1.1     Statement of the Problem

A lot of researches have been carried out on Nigerian English in different areas; some have looked at the phonological, morphological and the syntactic features of Nigerian English. For example Jowitt did a study on the phonological variation on Nigerian English, Odumuh carried out a research on the syntactic variation of Nigerian English  also Fakoya did a research on the morphological variation of Nigerian English. This research work has however decided to take a different perspective by looking into the lexico-semantic features of Nigerian English in selected newspapers.

The Lexico-Semantic features of Nigerian English in newspapers have created a lot of problem whereby people have not been able to understand some editorials or news columns because of unique lexico semantic features in Nigerian English, as a result of which the researcher intends to investigate the lexico-Semantic features of Nigerian English in Newspapers: A Study of Vanguard, Punch and Daily Trust. For example an extract was gotten from Vanguard Newspaper which says …“Shine his Oga shoes” (Vanguard Newspaper, 22nd Jan, 2016.  “…We have an eye service”. (The Vanguard Newspaper, 22nd Jan, 2016).

1.2Objective of the Study

Specifically this study is aimed at achieving the following specific objectives:

  1. To identify the use of lexico-semantic features of Nigerian English by columnists and editorial writers in selected Newspapers.
  2. To identify the various types and causes of lexico-semantic variation in Nigerian English
  3. To determine the extent to which Nigerians who write the articles seen in columns and editorials listed, use lexico-semantic variation in the Nigerian English.
  4. To portray the point that Nigerian English as a variety of English is reflected at the Lexico-Semantic level of the language.

1.3   The Purpose and Significance of the Study

This study attempts to project the extent to which the lexis and meaning of Nigerian English vary from the British Standard English in some selected newspapers, which are Vanguard, Punch and Daily Trust Newspapers. The research will in no doubt contribute to knowledge especially in the field of Nigerian English, Semantics and Linguistics generally as it is a contribution to knowledge in these fields. The Newspaper editors, as well as column writers would benefit in the area of researching to write their articles thereby educating their readers on the Lexico-Semantic features of Nigerian English. It will also benefit the students of English and the student researchers in that it will serve as a point of reference as well as educate them on the features that are peculiar to the Lexico-Semantic aspect of the Nigerian English.

1.4Research Questions

In carrying out this research, the following questions will be fully tested in line with the study:

  1. Is there in existence a variety of English known as Nigerian English?
  2. Are there peculiarities of Nigerian English in Nigerian Newspapers?
  3. Do Newspaper writers in Nigeria explore the use of Nigerian English in their editorials and columns?
  4. Are there unique Lexico-semantic features of Nigerian English in editorial columns of Nigerian newspapers?

1.5Scope and Delimitation of the Study

This research will limit itself to the Lexico-semantic analysis of Nigerian English in Vanguard, Punch and Daily Trust newspapers, in selected dailies from January 2012- December 2016. It is important to emphasize that this study, does not include other newspapers beside Vanguard, Punch and Daily Trust newspapers and it does not cover other features of Nigerian English as Phonology, syntax and pragmatics.



1.6 Definition of Terms

In this study, the following terms are defined with particular reference to their operational meanings.

1-Lexis: This concerns the vocabulary, words or morphemes of a language

2-Semantics: This is the branch of Linguistics and logic concerned with meaning or can be 3-defined as the study of meaning

4-Nigerian English: Nigerian English can be seen as the variety of English spoken in Nigeria.

5-Lexico-semantics: The study of the meaning of words and phrases and the relationships between them, such as synonymy, and hyponymy.

6-Newspaper: A publication usually published daily or weekly and printed on cheap, low-quality paper, containing news and other articles.


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