“Lingua Franca: From Nigerian Pidgin to Naija Languej” | Eriata Oribhabor

“Lingua Franca: From Nigerian Pidgin to Naija Languej” | Eriata Oribhabor

Nigerian pidgin na im be di the most popular language for Nigeria wey Nigerians, no matter dia tribe or religion, tek dey yan. For di fact sey, some outsiders need to reach out well with Nigerians for business and other things, dem dey learn how to speak Naija pidgin. 

Where pidgin for start na Delta areas like Warri, Sapele, Port-Harcourt etc where e don become  language of im own like Sierra Leone creole. Pipul for Niger Delta wey first jam oyibo no find easy to yan with dem. Na to see sey dem fit yan with oyibo for di way dem fit, na im lead to pidgin.

Before we kom dey call our pidgin Naija Pidgin, e don answer difren names like, ‘Broken English”, “Gutter language’’, and ‘‘Rotten English’’ wey late Ken Saro Wiwa take write (Sozaboy: A Novel In Rotten English, Saro Press), make pidgin popular. All di name I mention na name wey pipul take dey look down on pidgin. Di reason for dis no hard to find – before before, pidgin na language wey more of low class pipul dey speak; for example – house boy or house girl, and so on. As many pipul kom fit dey go school dey learn oyibo, even self sey no be like oyibo, pidgin and oyibo wey be English, kom dey jam and blend.

Today, our pidgin na combination of difren words from English language and Nigerian languages. If we consider how we get plenty plenty tribe wey be more than five hundred, pidgin dey always dey grow with all kind of word. As Nigerians dey travel out from time to time dey interact for business and enjoyment, pidgin go continue to be di language wey millions of pipul for Naija go take dey yan. Wetin dem dey call “broken English”, “rotten English” and “gutter language” don become language wey everybody no dey shame to speak openly and even di Who-wey-be-Who for our kontri dey speak am. Including politicians wey take am dey launch dia party and program.

Today, we get many radio and TV station wey dey use only pidgin like WAZOBIA and WAP TV. Di thing wey dey sweet me pass be sey, e go hard to find one radio or TV station wey no dey use pidgin present sport program. Di way dem dey use pidgin for radio and TV kom even make am more popular and pipul dey like am di more. And, so-tey our Comedians kom make am look like sey, if person no yan with pidgin, things no go flow well especially to crack joke.

Anyhow anyhow, Nigerian pidgin never fit grow di way e sopoz grow bikos, e no get any standard to use in case dem wan use am write. And for di fact sey, government no gree give am approval, we still dey see am as di official language wey no get official stamp. Na dis make IFRA-Nigeria organise the first Conference for Nigerian Pidgin. IFRA na one organization wey dey promote research for social science matter for Nigeria. Di conference hold from 9th to 11th June, 2009 for University of Ibadan, Nigeria. For difren decision wey di pipul for di conference agree, one of dem na name for our pidgin as first step to give am standard. And di language go get guide or orthography to help bring togeda special pattern for spelling.

Also, di conference pipul agree sey all di pipul wey present paper for di first conference go form Naija Languej Akedemi (NLA) wey go reason how to position Naija languej for many things.

One year after di conference, one meeting of everybody wey get hand and interest kom hold. Di assignment of di meeting na how to publish wetin pipul go fit make reference to for  Naija Languej. Di pipul wey dem give dis work na: Professors Francis O. Egbokhare (UNIBADAN) Rose Aziza (DELSU), Christine Ofulue (NOUN), Dr. M. Mowarin, David Esizimetor and others.

As person wey dem born and grow up for Warri, Nigeria (place wey everybody sey na home of pidgin), di first language wey i sabi na pidgin before my own traditional language from Esan (Edo State). For me, di Conference for Nigerian pidgin na di first major step step to my dream to see sey pidgin get government approval as language for all of us. 

Di paper wen I present for di conference na “The Use of Pidgin in the Media, Arts and Entertainment in Nigeria”, I don quietly dey monitor di way pidgin don dey grow from grow to grow, na language wey many pipul dey learn how to speak and write. Di following na some of di books wey I don write:

  • ABUJA NA KPANGBA AN ODA PUEM DEM (Poetry) – Eriata Oribhabo
  • IF YOU HEAR SEY I DEY PRISON (Poetry Anthology) – Editor
  • AMEBO YARD (anthology of Plays) – Editor
  • ONE LEG FORWARD, TWO LEG BACKWARD (Prose)- Eriata Oribhabor

  • The biggest problem wey dey di hand of poetry promoters dem for of Naija Languej na dictionary wey pipul fit cross check words to guide pipul everyday. 

    With wetin I mention for top, Federal government no get reason not to agree to di name of Naija language, di soul and spirit of Naija pipul wey no dey slack, and to join all of us as one.


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