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                                                   CHAPTER ONE


1.1 Background of the Study

The study comes as a result of studying a sociolinguistic analysis of the use of Nigerian pidgin for interactions in Nigerian Ibadan markets. The research is principally aimed at determining the nexus between the use of Nigerian pidgin and interactions in Ibadan markets. The chapter one covers the background of the study, statement of the problem, the purpose of the study as well as the significance of the study, research methodology.

More than 500 languages are spoken in Nigeria, a multilingual and multicultural country (Grimes, 2000). The rise of Nigerian Pidgin, a lingua franca that cuts across ethnic and geographical barriers, adds even more richness to this linguistic diversity. Nigerian Pidgin, sometimes referred to as “Broken English” or “Pidgin English,” acts as a bridge language between speakers of several indigenous languages. The use of Nigerian Pidgin (NP), a distinctive form of English spoken throughout Nigeria, especially in casual contexts, has drawn a lot of interest from sociolinguistic scholars. Nigerian Pidgin is an essential communication tool used by market players, clients, and traders in the busy markets of Ibadan, Nigeria. According to Rajend et al. (2000), “Since they speak the same language, people can communicate with each other.” The goal of this sociolinguistic analysis is to explore the subtleties of how Nigerian Pidgin is used in daily interactions in the ever-changing marketplace.

Known as “broken English” or just “pidgin,” Nigerian Pidgin is a dynamic and changing language phenomena that resulted from the interaction of English, regional tongues, and other ethnic groups during Nigeria’s colonial history (Adegbija, 2004). It acts as a lingua franca, promoting communication between Nigerians from various language backgrounds. Its extensive use in casual contexts like marketplaces is indicative of its function as a language of daily communication and social cohesiveness (Awonusi, 2004).

The employment of Nigerian Pidgin as a communication tool at the Dugbe and Agbeni markets is the main topic of this study. Nigerian Pidgin is widely used at both of the marketplaces in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, which served as the impetus for the inquiry. Ibadan is a city with a rich cultural legacy and a lively marketplace that is alive with social interactions and commerce activity. Nigerian Pidgin acts as a linguistic bridge in this situation, facilitating effective negotiation and communication between buyers, sellers, and onlookers. Language is a system of symbols that humans have developed to convey thoughts, feelings, and aspirations. According to Edward Sapir (2011), Sapir highlights that language is the means by which people interact with each other and express their ideas, feelings, and desires through habitual oral auditory and arbitrary symbols.

Numerous linguistic and social elements that affect how Nigerian Pidgin is used in diverse circumstances have been brought to light by sociolinguistic studies (Adegbite, 2004). Language practices and interactions involving Nigerian Pidgin are shaped by market dynamics, social status, and ethnicity in the context of Ibadan markets. In social interactions and business dealings with people who speak different languages, Nigerian Pidgin is crucial. Pidgins are still widely accepted and even encouraged in social and commercial settings where people from various ethnic backgrounds come together to transact business. The usage of pidgins is crucial because Nigerian Pidgin is crucial to the success of commercial transactions in these markets (Dugbe and Agbeni markets), where people from all linguistic backgrounds congregate to purchase or sell.

1.2 Statement of Problem

Despite its extensive use and cultural relevance, Nigerian Pidgin is underrepresented in linguistic research, especially in urban areas like Ibadan. This study addresses a knowledge vacuum by investigating the sociolinguistic features of NP usage in Ibadan. Furthermore, social views toward NP and its function in shaping linguistic identities and community dynamics are important problems that should be investigated. Understanding these challenges is critical for creating informed language policies and encouraging linguistic variety and inclusivity in Nigerian society. In conclusion, this study seeks to contribute to a broader knowledge of creole languages and sociolinguistic dynamics by focusing on the case of Nigerian Pidgin in Ibadan, Nigeria. This study aims to shed light on the role of NP in determining identity, communication, and social relationships in Ibadan’s urban setting by conducting a thorough investigation of its linguistic properties, social functions, and cultural consequences.

1.3 Aim of the Study

The aim of this study is to investigate the sociolinguistic aspects of Nigerian Pidgin usage in Ibadan, focusing on its linguistic features, social functions, and attitudes towards its use.

1.3.1 Objectives of the Study:

  • To analyze the linguistic features and structural characteristics of Nigerian Pidgin as used in Ibadan.
  • To examine the social functions and domains of Nigerian Pidgin within various contexts in Ibadan, including informal conversations, media, and public discourse.
  • To investigate the attitudes, perceptions, and language ideologies towards Nigerian Pidgin among different social groups in Ibadan.
  • To explore the relationship between Nigerian Pidgin usage and sociodemographic variables such as age, gender, education, and socioeconomic status in Ibadan.
  • To assess the implications of Nigerian Pidgin usage for language policy, education, and identity construction in Ibadan and beyond.

1.4 Significance of the Study

  • Cultural Preservation: Nigerian Pidgin is an important component of Nigerian culture, especially in urban regions like Ibadan. Analyzing its use contributes to the preservation and understanding of this unique linguistic heritage.
  • Language Policy: The study’s findings can be used to inform language policies and educational practices, particularly in terms of incorporating Nigerian Pidgin into formal contexts and curriculum development.
  • Practical Applications: The findings from this study can have practical applications in various fields such as education, media, and communication, by informing policies and practices that promote linguistic diversity and inclusion.
  • Academic Contribution: This research contributes to the body of knowledge in sociolinguistics by providing a detailed investigation of Nigerian Pidgin usage within a specific geographical and sociocultural setting, thereby enriching our understanding of language diversity and sociolinguistic dynamics in Nigeria.
  • Gap in Research: Despite the widespread use of Nigerian Pidgin, there has been little serious sociolinguistic research focused on its use in Ibadan. This study aims to fill that gap by providing empirical data and analysis.
  • Urban Linguistic Landscape: Ibadan, as one of Nigeria’s largest cities, represents an important urban linguistic landscape in which Nigerian Pidgin coexists with other languages and dialects. Understanding its use here can shed light on broader sociolinguistic problems in urban settings.

1.5 Research Methodology

The data collection for this sociolinguistic analysis took place over a period of six months, from August to January 2024.

1.5.1 Location of the Research Area

The study was mostly done in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State in southern Nigeria. The data gathering sites were Dugbe and Agbeni markets in Ibadan Northwest local government area, Oyo state, Nigeria, which has a robust trading economy. Dugbe and Agbeni Market is located near the University Crescent community on Adegbola Street, a significant street with a mixed population of individuals who visit the market on a daily basis, and Pidgin is freely spoken by buyers and sellers.

1.6 Method of Data Collection

Participant Selection: A varied sample of individuals was chosen to reflect various demographics, such as age, gender, socioeconomic level, and educational background. Participants were recruited using both random sampling and targeted recruiting strategies.

Interviews: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants to collect qualitative information about their use of Nigerian Pidgin. Interviews covered subjects such language attitudes, language choice, language use in various circumstances, and perspectives of Nigerian Pidgin.

Language Samples: Participants were asked to provide language samples in Nigerian Pidgin via written tasks, recorded spontaneous speech, and story sessions. These samples were collected to study language traits, variations, and usage patterns.

Observations: Systematic observations were done in a variety of settings to document community people’ spontaneous use of Nigerian Pidgin. Observations included encounters in both marketplaces, public transit, and social events in the market center.

Social Network Analysis: The participants were asked to identify their social networks, which included family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Social network analysis was used to study how social factors influence the use of Nigerian Pidgin in diverse interpersonal scenarios.

1.7 Method of Data Analysis

  • Quantitative Analysis:
  • Statistical approaches were used to examine demographic data and language usage patterns among participants. Frequency counts, percentages, and correlation analysis were employed to detect trends and correlations.
  • Qualitative Analysis:
  • Thematic analysis was used on interview transcripts and observational notes to find recurring themes on linguistic attitudes, identity, and sociocultural influences impacting Nigerian Pidgin usage in Ibadan.

Linguistic Analysis:

Language samples were transcribed and processed using linguistic methods and frameworks to investigate phonological, syntactic, and lexical aspects of Nigerian Pidgin. Variationist and sociolinguistic methodologies were used to investigate linguistic variation and change within the speech community.

1.8 Ethical Considerations

  • All subjects provided informed consent and remained anonymous and confidential throughout the study.
  • Ethical criteria for human subjects’ research were strictly followed to protect participants’ dignity, privacy, and rights.



Adegbija, E. (2004). Language attitudes in sub-Saharan Africa: A sociolinguistic overview. Multilingual Matters.

Awonusi, S. (2004). Nigerian Pidgin in Lagos: Language contact, variation, and change in an African urban setting. University of Pittsburgh.

Grimes, B. F. (Ed.). (2000). Ethnologue: Languages of the world (Vol. 1). Dallas, TX: SIL International.