International Journal of
English and Literature

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. English Lit.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2626
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJEL
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 271

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


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.