Reverse Back the Car: Reduplication as Language Variation in Nigerian English Usage

God’sgift Ogban, Mercy Imoh Ugot


This paper investigates the use of reduplicated English elements as aspects of Nigerian English usage in the speech events among participants in Calabar, a multilingual city in Southern Nigeria. The study adopts Variationist Sociolinguistics and Sociopragmatic Competence as the theoretical foundations because both account for the occurrence of variation and semantic change resulting from interference from L1 and other factors. The data for the study were generated through a two-year field investigation by means of participant observation and audiotape recording of interactions among participants who are bi/multilingual in English and one or more Nigerian indigenous languages. The active sites where the data were extracted include interactions among participants in the University environment, markets, churches and other social gatherings, and discussants on television and radio programmes. The findings indicate that the use of reduplicated elements cut across ages, gender, social status, and the diverse ethnolinguistic and educational backgrounds of Nigerians. These features of Nigerian English occur as lexical reduplication which combines identical elements in the open class system and the semantic reduplication that denotes redundancy and other contrastive forms. The features generate new semantic forms that perform several sociopragmatic functions within the Nigerian sociocultural context indicative of variant of new Englishes as outcome of English contact with indigenous languages.


Language Contact, Lexical Reduplication, Semantic Reduplication, Nigerian English, L1 Interference

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