Multilingualism and Linguistic Hybridity: An Experiment with Educated Nigerian Spoken English
Ubong Ekerete Josiah

One prognosis that became an outgrowth of the Sapir-Whorfian hypothesis is the notion that the culture of any given society, to a large extent, influences and ultimately determines the type of language that would exist. This study anchors its findings on this framework. It generally investigates into the spoken English in a multilingual environment, Nigeria, and particularly, notes the various instances of hybridized (acculturated) variants emerging among the speakers from different linguistic backgrounds. Using a corpus-based approach, the author took samples from respondents in four Nigerian universities, comprising mainly final-year university students from nineteen linguistic groups. The universities located in different parts of the country were randomly selected so as to capture different linguistic groups of educated Nigerians. The corpus, a 75-worded paragraph, was read into an MP3 player by the respondents, and then loaded into a Gateway Computer. The data was first analyzed perceptually, and then, acoustically using Praat – a software for phonetic analysis. The result shows that, although mothertongue interference and the people’s culture had major influences on the utterances heard among the respondents, national intelligibility was not impeded in a significant way; rather, it provided a unique identity. Again, the rate of social acceptability was high among the respondents indicating some level of uniformity. However, the tempo of utterance was generally slower than that of the native speaker used as the control. The study concludes that in a nonnative, multilingual environment, English language assumes a hybridized posture. The author then advocates the setting up of harmonized, intralingual, national standards within multilingual communities in nonnative English speaking communities to facilitate effective communication that could run concurrently with international English without impeding global intelligibility in a significant way.

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