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A Sociological Perspective on Pidgin's Viability and Usefulness for Development in West Africa

Victoria M. Time
Daniel K. Pryce


This essay examines the viability and usefulness of pidgin for development in West Africa. Pidgin in West Africa has endured as a unifying medium of communication among people who do not share a common language. It has been lauded as a neutral language that facilitates trade, commerce, and everyday dealings among people of all walks of life. Some have proposed supplanting English, which is the official language in most of the West African countries where the use of pidgin is prevalent, with either pidgin or some other indigenous language. Contrarians, however, consider pidgin to be a limiting factor, in that, it is a barrier to speaking, reading, and writing standard English, and thus impedes upward mobility. They argue that projecting pidgin or some other indigenous language may create some political backlash, and strife among the people. Using qualitative analysis, we examine this debate from a sociological perspective.

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print ISSN: 2343-6530