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Academic Paper

Title: The functions of English in Nigeria from the earliest times to the present day
Author: Rotimi Olorunfemi Taiwo
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics
Abstract: The use of the English language in Nigeria dates back to the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century when British merchants and Christian missionaries settled in the coastal towns called Badagry, near Lagos in the present day South Western Nigeria and Calabar, a town in the present day South Eastern Nigeria. The merchants initially traded in slaves until the slave trade was abolished in 1807, at which time freed slaves of Nigerian origin returned to the country. Many of them, who had been exposed to Western education and Christianity, later served as translators or interpreters for the Christian missionaries. The primary aim of the Christian mission was not to make their converts speak English; rather, it was to make them literate enough to read the bible in their indigenous languages. This must be the reason why Samuel Ajayi Crowder translated the English bible into Yoruba, the major language in South Western Nigeria.
With the attainment of independence, English gradually grew to become the major medium for inter-ethnic communication. Like most African nations, the country, after independence, had to grapple with multi-ethnicity and acute multilingualism. In this article, we shall examine the expansion in the functions of English during the post-colonial period.


This article appears IN English Today Vol. 25, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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