AFRREV LALIGENS: An International Journal of Language, Literature and Gender Studies

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The sociolinguistic dilemma of the English language users in Nigeria: Issues in societal multilingualism

Nneka Umera-Okeke


The Nigerian linguistic society is purely pluralistic. Though conflicting records exist about the number of indigenous languages, it is estimated to be about 500. The need for interaction, and the absence of a national language have made it that every Nigerian is either a bilingual or a multilingual. In every multilingual society, there are particular norms and literal codes which are understood by people of the same shared cultural background in spite of the different codes and there is often a prestige given to one language over others either by its functions or status. In using a prestige language like English in Nigeria, speakers despite their level of competence are faced with the dilemma of linguistic choices. They make choices to fit each purpose; these choices are influenced by certain factors. Faced with the myriad of languages, the Nigerian users of English are confronted with the social, psychological and linguistic dilemma of the speech community. The paper therefore examined the sociolinguistics dilemma of the Nigerian users of English vis a viz uncertainty over choice of code and variety, language attitude, challenges with code mixing/code switching and concern over interference.

Key Words: sociolinguistic dilemma, multilingualism, code-mixing/switching, interference, second language user

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