1.1 Background to the study
Man’s ability to communicate sets him apart from other primates. People interact with the aid of a language, which is an arbitrary code or symbols for expressing thoughts, ideas, and emotions.
A pidgin is a restricted language which arises for the purpose of communication between two social groups of which one is in a more dominant position than the other. The less dominant group is the one which develops the pidgin. Historically pidgins arose in colonial situations where the representatives of the particular colonial power, officials, tradesmen, sailors, etc., came in contact with natives. The latter developed a jargon when communicating with the former. This resulted in a language on the basis of the colonial language in question and the language or languages of the natives. Such a language was restricted in its range as it served a definite purpose, namely basic communication with the colonists. In the course of several generations such a reduced form of language can become more complex, especially, if it develops into the mother tongue of a group of speakers. This latter stage is that of creolization. Creoles are much expanded versions of pidgins and have arisen in situations in which there was a break in the natural linguistic continuity of a community, for instance on slave plantations in their early years.
Therefore, pidgin is a language of its own and not just a supplementary tongue as some people claim it to be, since it serves as an unlimited instrument of social communication especially in a multilingual community as the FCT (Fromkin et al, 1980).
Pidgin is commonly used as a lingua franca among educated and illiterate Nigerians.
This is further re-enforced by the nation’s high illiteracy levels that vary from one section of the country to another, and even within each section of the society. Language experts say that Pidgin English had, for a long time, been viewed as an effective medium of unhindered self-expression in inter-expression, inter-personal communication especially in a Multilanguage environment like Nigeria. (Jowitt, 2000)
Amos Tutuola, a famous Nigerian literary giant, did most of his works including “The Palm-Wine Drinkard” in Pidgin English. Many later writers have had to do works in pidgin, thus depicting the popularity and wide usage of the language as a medium of communication. It is on this note that AIG-Imouekhuede’s poem “Stew and Sufferhead” and Ken Saro Wiwa’s collections of Songs “Dis Nigeria Self” were written in Pidgin English; not only that, Mamman Vasta’s “Tori For Creti Bow leg”, Ezenwa Ohaetos’ “I Wan Bi President” and ‘‘If To Say I Be Soja”, are also expressed in pidgin to communicate to a wider audience (Akindele, 1999).
Today, one of the most popular Fm radio stations in Port Harcourt, FCT and Lagos, Wazobia Fm, runs all its programmes in pidgins; most Nigerian musicians did their songs in pidgin, comedy and diverse social functions are also carried out in pidgin but in spite of its popularity and significance, some scholars are sceptical about the use of pidgin, especially in official environments, insisting that it does not deserve much recognition and lacks prestige.
They maintain their argument on the fact that pidgin could adulterate individual’s capacities in written and spoken English but linguists observe that pidgin could come to play when there is need for better understanding in discussions involving a wider society where the choice of English language as a medium of communication may hinder audience participation especially in a multilingual environment like Nigeria.
According to Ihemere (2006), Nigerian pidgin is derived partly from the Edo-Delta area of the country, but varies among the speakers. He posits that dialects of pidgin exist including that of Warri, Sapele, Benin, Port Harcourt, Lagos especially in Ajegunle, and Onitsha, noting that pidgin has gained more popularity for dealings in the nation’s socio-economic activities.
Some people see pidgin as a supplementary or makeshift language which could die off when the needs that gave rise to it die. In other words, pidgins are said to be short-lived. This is not always true of all pidgins because it is not all varieties of pidgins that die off. Hence, we have two types of pidgins: extended pidgins and restricted pidgins.
Restricted pidgins are pidgins which arise for limited purposes such as trade and later die off after the purpose for which it was created is withdrawn. Todd (1974) cites Korean Bambo English as an example of restricted pidgin. Restricted pidgins can also be called minimal pidgins. Extended pidgins on the other hand are the opposite ones. An extended pidgin even after fulfilling its original limited purpose of marginal contact or trade continues to exist for communication in a multilingual environment. Nigerian pidgin is an example of an extended pidgin, because it has outlived its initial trade purpose and is still being used today extensively in the country.
According to Ayowo (2013), pidgins can develop to become a creole because a creole language arises when a pidgin becomes the native language of a speech community. This means that pidgin can become a mother tongue to its speakers through the process of creolization. Pigins therefore, have the ability to develop into full-fledged languages. It is sustained as a language based on the lexifier language. That is the language that provides its lexical items. Pidgins are seen as corrupted, mixed, reduced, marginal and bastardized versions of existing languages. This notion has led many people to think that pidgin is a debased form of the standard language and not a language of its own, which was used as substitute of the standard language by those who were incapable of or at least had not the opportunity of learning the latter. It is for this reason that many parents discourage their children from the use of pidgin. In fact many still believe that pidgins are parasitic of being independent linguistic systems. Recently, linguists are raising the banners to regard pidgins as languages that deserve recognition in their own right, and are worthy of scholarly attention as any other speech system.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Pidgin is a language just like English and there is enough room for both languages to co-exist and be mutually embraced. Despite this and the fact that pidgin English appears to be the most popular means of communication among diverse groups and is easier to learn compare to any other language in the country. It is generally asserted that it is not the suitable language for use in formal settings. It is against this backdrop that this study seeks to know whether Pidgin English on radio is a means of effective communication among illiterate audience.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The following are the objectives of the study.
- To find out if Pidgin English on radio is effective in communication among illiterate audience.
- To ascertain the role played by Pidgin English on radio as a means of effective communication among illiterate audience.
- To find out the extent to which Pidgin English on radio has affected the communication prowess of the illiterate audience.
1.4 Research Questions
1. Is Pidgin English on radio media a means of effective communication among illiterate audience?
2. What role has Pidgin English on radio played as a means of effective communication among illiterate audience?
3. To what extent has Pidgin English on radio affected the communicative effectiveness of the illiterate audience?
1.5 Significance of the study
The study will be significant in four (4) dimensions.
- The outcome of the study will be beneficial to the entire society in knowing the benefits and importance of Pidgin English because it will change their perception towards Pidgin English.
- The study outcome will certainly contribute to existing knowledge on the part of the illiterate audience.
- The outcome of the study will lay the foundation for language planners on the usefulness of Pidgin in Nigeria.
- The study will act as a reference material for future researchers.
1.6 Scope of the study
The study and its scope is Pidgin English on radio media as a means of effective communication among illiterate audience in Abuja; Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria.
1.7 Limitations of the study
The researcher in the course of the study encountered numerous challenges ranging from non-availability of materials that almost posed a challenge to the success of this study but succeeded when visited the library, the researcher also faced the challenge of meeting stubborn respondents who demanded for gratification before information was given out but with the persuasive nature of the researcher, the study became a success.
1.8 Definitions of Terms
Pidgin: Pidgin is defined as a language formed when groups of people who speak different languages meet for trade.
Radio Media: Radio media is defined as a channel of communication that uses the audio signals to reach everybody irrespective of region.
Effective Communication: Effective Communication is the message sent and received with a corresponding effect.
Illiterate Audience: Illiterate Audience are mass media audience that do not know how to read and in some cases do not know how to write.