The Reality Of The English Language – Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was the Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms for seventy years. Born on April 21, 1926, Elizabeth became the Queen of the United Kingdom at age 25. She died on September 8, 2022, making her reign of seventy years and 214 days the longest of any British Monarch and the longest that history has in the record of any female ruler since the inception of mankind.
Worthy of clarification for enlightenment is the composition of the United Kingdom. Sporting activities make many people around the world think that nations like England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are independent countries. While these nations enjoy autonomy in sporting and other engagements, they make up nations within the United Kingdom, just like the many nations within Nigeria. Having acknowledged the Queen and her empire, the rest of this treatise will discuss the reality of the Queen’s English and the way forward for second-language users of English in Nigeria.
Queen’s English is the form of spoken and written British English that is considered correct by most people. It is taken to be the elitist variety used by renowned and sophisticated people. Its spoken form is called Received Pronunciation, otherwise known as RP. RP is a way of pronouncing British English that is often considered to be the standard accent.
Many notable dictionaries follow the RP standard in the representation of words as sounds. Given the spread of English and its status as the most geographically dispersed language in the world, countries of the world have developed their describable varieties of the language. For instance, while we ‘sit’ or ‘take’, not ‘write’, tests and examinations in standard English, the Oxford Dictionary of English acknowledges sitting/taking tests/examinations as ‘Canadian’ and ‘South African’ English. Moreover, it is no longer news that Nigerian usages like ‘Barbing Salon’ (instead of ‘Barber’s’), ‘qualitative’ (to mean ‘quality’), ‘barb’ (verb; instead of ‘barber’), ‘rub minds’ (instead of ‘confer’) now exist in the aforementioned dictionary.
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In the wake of the foregoing, since the English language has been domesticated and nativised in Nigeria, there is a need to intensify efforts towards the codification of Nigerian English for formal uses and pedagogical purposes. As it stands, the economic and political might of the US has entrenched American English in the world. It is, for instance, the default language of many technological devices. For this reason, it is difficult to even mark American uses wrong in tests.
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Hence, students are now caught in the web of whether to use British English or American English; this is even if they are able to tell the differences between the two leading varieties. This culminates with the urgent need to develop Nigerian English to serve our formal and pedagogical purposes. As such, the following are the steps towards the codification of the language in Nigeria.
First, a unified effort towards developing the codes of Nigerian English at all linguistic levels, such as grammar, phonology, idiomatic expressions and whatnot, has to be intensified. While many scholars have worked on all of these different aspects, their efforts have not been synergised to yield known books that can be used for teaching in secondary schools. It must also be mentioned that what becomes Nigerian English must be the product of thorough undertakings which are corpus-driven. It should not be what a group of scholars assumes that the people speak. Hence, there must be extensive fieldwork to develop Standard Nigerian English. Notably, teachers in secondary schools are important reference points for the appraisal of the usages that can really be described as Nigerian English, from the writings of their students.
Furthermore, academic and professional bodies must intensify efforts to ensure that Nigerian English is accorded recognition and accepted for academic tests at all levels, just as Americans examine people’s communicative competence based on American English. This stage evidently has to be preceded by the codification phase.
Of course, there is no gainsaying that the involvement of the government is crucial for the development of Standard Nigerian English. This will be possible through adequate and timely funding of education, in addition to the required legislation.
In conclusion, this write-up establishes commiseration with the entire world over the demise of the Queen. Additionally, it emphasises the need for full-fledged Nigerian English and the ways to establish it.
(c) 2022 Ganiu Abisoye Bamgbose (Dr GAB)
Department of English
Lagos State University