International Journal of English and Literature
Subscribe to IJEL
Full Name*
Email Address*

Article Number - B500D5F47763

Vol.5(9), pp. 232 - 240 , November 2014
DOI: 10.5897/IJEL2014.0623
ISSN: 2141-2626

Full Length Research Paper

The taxonomy of Nigerian varieties of spoken English

Oladimeji Kaseem Olaniyi
  • Oladimeji Kaseem Olaniyi
  • Kwara State University, Malete, Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar

 Received: 05 June 2014  Accepted: 03 September 2014  Published: 30 November 2014

Copyright © 2014 Author(s) retain the copyright of this article.
This article is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0

The dream of a Nigerian English dictionary has recently been actualized. The academic body of teachers and researchers known as NESA recently published a dictionary of the Nigerian English. The corpus of words and expressions in the dictionary represents the meaning and pronunciation of words as used by Nigerians.As a headlamp into the major and minor languages spoken by a vast population of Nigerians, this article seeks to stratify the varieties of Nigerian English on the basis of the popularity of the various ethnic groups which culminate in the variations that subsist in the accents of English available in Nigeria. As a result, in the first instance, a pyramid which classifies the over three hundred languages into three levels (in a pyramidal structure) is proposed. Secondly, coalesced phonemic inventories from all the varieties of Nigerian English are linguistically reconciled. From the methodology of the study to the findings, formal and informal interviews, perceptual and acoustic experiments carried out textually and inter-textually form the background of results which have been corroborated in the literatures of Nigerian English. This study is basically an appraisal of Nigerian English without any bias for the educated, uneducated, standard, or sub-standard varieties. Whereas, linguistic, educational and ethnic parameters have been used in describing Nigerian English, the multi-ethnic influences on Nigerian English, being spoken in Nigeria has given it an appealing status among the colony of Englishes around the world to researchers. Thus, Nigerian English should begin to assume a status whose taxonomy will aid its international identity.

Key words: Multi-ethnicity, taxonomy, Nigerian English, Standard British English, dialects, topos, genesis, techne, nomos, polis, onyma, glossa, ethos.


Adegbija E (1992a). ``Survival Strategies for Minority Languages: The Case of Oko``. ITL Rev. Appl. Linguistics 103-104:19-38.


Adegbija E (2004). "The Language situation in Nigeria and a Tentative Language Register". In Adegbija, E. Multilingualism: A Nigerian Case Study. Eritrea: Africa World Press Line p.37.


Adegbite W (2009). Language, Elit-Masses Citizenship and the Challenges of Education in Nigeria. A Paper presented at the 26th Annual Conference of the Nigeria English Studies Association (NESA), Tai Solarin University of Education, Ikebu Ode, Nigeria. 12ff


Agheyisi RS (1984). "Minor Languages in the Nigerian Context: Prospect and Problems". Word 35(3):235-253


Akinnaso FN (1991). "Toward the Development of a Multilingual Language Policy in Nigeria." Appl. Linguist. 12(1):29-61.


Akinjobi A (2004). A phonological Investigation of Vowel Weakening and Unstressed Syllable Obscuration in Education Yoruba English. An unpublished Ph.D Dissertation, University of Ibadan, Ibadan. pp.38-100.


Atoye R (2008). "Word Stress in Nigerian English and its Implications for Nigerian's Oral Literacy". In: Adegbite, W. and Olajide, B. (eds.) English and the Challenges of Literacy in the 21st Century. Proceedings of the 22nd Annual NESA conference pp.39-54.


Bamgbose A (1971). "The English language in Nigeria". In: Spencer (ed.), pp.35-48.


Bamgbose A (1995). "English in the Nigerian Environment In: A. Bamgbose A. Banjo & Thomas (eds.) New Englishes. Ibadan. The British Council. Pp.9-26.


Banjo A (1979). "Toward a Definition of Standard Nigerian Spoken English" Actusndun 8 Congress de Society Linguistique de Africa Occidentials Abidjan.


Banjo A (1982). "English Language Studies in a Multilingual Setting in Nigeria". Text of lecture delivered at the University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., 29:1-16.


Brann CMB (1990). "Language Policy, Planning and Management in Nigeria: A Bird's Eye View". Sociolinguistics 19:1-19.


Brann CMB (2006). "Macro-Sociolinguistics in Africa: A Tentative Introduction" in Language in Education & Society: An Anthology of Selected Writings of Brann, C.M.B.2005. Maiduguri/Jos: Fab Education Books.


Brann CMB (2006). "The De-lectable Field of Socio-Linguistic Variety Differentiation" in Language in Education & Society: An Anthology of Selected Writings of Brann (1975-2005). Jos: Fab Education Books.


Brann CMB (2006). "Mother Tongue, Other Tongue and Further Tongue". In Language in Education and Society: An Anthology of Selected Writings of Brann (1975-2005). Jos: Fab Education Books.


Brosnahan L (1958). "English in Southern Nigeria", Engl. Stud. 39:97-110.


Cruttenden A (2008). Gimson's Pronunciation of English. London: Hodder Education p.75 .


Dunstan C (ed.) (1969). Twelve Nigerian Languages: A Handbook of their Sound Systems for Teaching for Teachers of English, London: Longman


Eka D (1985). A Phonological Study of Standard Nigerian English. Unpublished Ph.D thesis. Department of English, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria


Elugbe BO (1990). "National Language and National Development". In: N.E Emenanjo (ed.). 1990:10-19.


Emenanjo EN (1991). "Language Modernization from the Grassroot: The Nigerian Experience". In: Cyffer, N., K. Schubbert, HansInglof Weir & E.K. WWolff, (eds.). Language Standardization in Africa., Hamburg: Buske Verlag pp.157-163.


Gandonu A (1975). The Geography of Nigerian Ethnicity and its Implication for Planning and Administration : Paper delivered at the NISER Conference.


Gandonu A (1978). "Nigeria's 250 Ethnic Groups: Realities and Assumptions" In: Holloman, R.E. & S.A. Arutiumov (eds.) Perspectives on Ethnicity, The Hague, Mouton.


Giglioli O (1972). Language and social Context. Harmondsworth: Penguin. 24:292-294


Gimson AC (1980). An Introduction to the Pronunciation of English. (3rd ed) London: Edward Arnold/New York: St. Martins Press.


Green M, Igwe G (1963). A Descriptive Grammar of Igbo, Academic Verlag Berlin and Oxford University Press, London Gumperz, J.J. 1962. "Types of Lingual Communities". Anthropol. Linguist. 4:28-40.


Hansford KJ, Bendor S, Stanford R (1976). Studies in Nigerian Languages. No 5: An index of Nigerian Languages. Zaria: Summer Institute of Linguistics.


Jibril M (1982). Phonological Variations in Nigerian English. Unpublished Ph.D Dissertation, Lancaster University.


Kachru BB (1982). Models for non-native Englishes In: Kachru, B.B. (ed). The other tongue pp 31-57.


Olajide B, Olaniyi O (2013). ``Educated Nigerian English Phonology as Core of a Regional `RP``. 3/14:277-286


Olaniyi O (2005). A Systemic Phonological Study of Nigerian English. Unpublished M.A. Thesis. English Department. University of Ilorin. p.78


Olaniyi O (2011). Articulation as A Means of Identifying Educated Nigerian Speakers of English: A Phono-Sociolinguistic Study. Unpublished Ph.D Thesis, Department of English, University of Ilorin, Nigeria.


Osisanwo A (2013). Phonological Interference among Ondo Speakers of English. Unpublished Manucript.


Plotnicov L (1970. "The Modern African Elite of Jos, Nigeria". In Tuden, A. and Plotnicov, L. (eds.): Social Stratification in Africa. The Free Press, London.


Preston D (1989). Sociolinguistics and second language Acquisition. Blackwell: Oxford pp.254-259.


Ruhlen M (1991). A Guide to the World Languages. Volume 1: Classification. London: Edward Arnold.


Salamone FA (1976). Becoming Hausa: Ethnic Identity Change and its implications for the study of ethnic pluralism and stratification, in Sanda, A. O. ethnic relations in Nigeria: problems and prospects, Ibadan: U.I. Dept. of Sociology, pp.192-209.


Schmied J (1989). Linguistics in the service of Africa. Bayreuth: Bayreuth Afr. Stud. Ser. 18: 23.


Udofot I (2004). Stress and Rhythm in the Nigerian Accent of English. A Preliminary Investigation. Engl. Worldw. 24(2):201-220.


Verbeke R (1966). Languages of Wider Communication and Teaching in sub-saharan Africa: problems of choice and educational implications. Int. Rev. Educ. (Harmburg). 12/4:450-466


Voegelin CF, Voegelin FM (1977). Classification and Index of World Languages. New Yorl: Elsevier.


Williamson K (1990). "Development of Minority Languages: Publishing and Problems and Proaspects". In: E.N. Emenanjo (ed.), pp.118-144.


APA Olaniyi, O. K. (2014). The taxonomy of Nigerian varieties of spoken English. International Journal of English and Literature, 5(9), 232 - 240.
Chicago Oladimeji Kaseem Olaniyi. "The taxonomy of Nigerian varieties of spoken English." International Journal of English and Literature 5, no. 9 (2014): 232 - 240.
MLA Oladimeji Kaseem Olaniyi. "The taxonomy of Nigerian varieties of spoken English." International Journal of English and Literature 5.9 (2014): 232 - 240.
DOI 10.5897/IJEL2014.0623

Subscription Form