Inaugural Lecture by Prof Macaulay Mowarin MNAL, Professor of Syntax and Contact Linguistics, Delta State University, Abraka


I thank the Almighty God for making it possible to deliver the fourth inaugural lecture from the Department of English and Literary Studies. The Department is bifurcated into (Literature) and (Language) units; this is the second from the Language unit. The first inaugural lecture from the language unit titled: ‘Tending, Bending and Breaking Vagabond English for Global Needs’ was delivered by Prof. Mabel Osakwe on Thursday, 21st July 2011.  Thirteen years later, I am privileged to deliver the 105th in the series of Inaugural Lectures of the Delta State University, Abraka. Nigeria, titled:

Ramifications of New Englishes on Nigerian Languages: Urhobo as Case Study.


One unifying factor of humans is the use of language for communication between the about six thousand languages that are spoken by about 8.1billion speakers (https// The use of human language is a universal integrating factor among humans. Chomsky (1973: 123) states: ‘ Language is the human essence, the quintessence of man, the distinctive qualities of mind that are unique to man. ‘

The tree metaphor is apt for describing language since it is a living organism that is born, matures, and dies (Crystal 2000). Language contact is a feature that pervades human languages, and the most pervasive source of language contact is the Europeans’ exploration of the world between the fourteenth and twentieth centuries. The European explorers include the British, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Great Britain is at the nodal head of these European explorers and colonialists. When the former colonies of Great Britain gained their independence in the twentieth century, the countries did not reject the use of English in Africa and Asia. (Schneider 2011).

The nativized variety of English, English-based Pidgins and Creoles and code switched English – Pidgin/Creole structures spoken in ex-colonies of Great Britain in  Africa and Asia is known as New Englishes. Crystal (1977:20) opines that the new variety of English spoken in Anglophone African and Asian countries ‘may be likened to a transplanted tree.

English was hybridized and nativized in Nigeria, now known as Nigerian English. The contact between English merchants and traders in the coastal part of the country evolved into a contact language known as Nigerian Pidgin (henceforth referred to as N.P.) (Elugbe & Omamor, 1991). While English is the superstrate language of NP, Niigerian languages in the coastal part of the country constitute the substrate languages. In addition, code-switched forms of English and Nigerian Pidgin also became a part of the speech repertoire of Nigerians. So, the new Englishes in Nigeria include: (i) Nigerian English, (ii) N.P., (iii) Nigerian English – N.P. code-switched structures, and (iv) Social media-mediated platforms English like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and TikTok. This lecture is a discourse on the salubrious and deleterious relationships between New Englishes and the plethora of about five hundred indigenous languages spoken in Nigeria’s complex multilingual and multicultural speech community, with Urhobo as a case study. 

World Languages

The number of languages in the world ranges between six and seven thousand.  Austin and Sallabank (2012:1) assert that ‘there are about seven thousand languages worldwide.Austin and Sallabank (2012:4) state that Ethnologue, however, opines that it is impossible to state the exact number of languages in the world: ‘Because languages are dynamic and variable and undergo constant change, the total number of languages in the world cannot be properly known.’ The number of speakers of the languages is also unevenly distributed across the globe. Haugen (1972) undertook an ecolinguistic analysis of the world’s languages, and he asserts that about five percent, or two hundred and fifty of the world’s languages have over one million speakers. This represents about ninety-four per cent of the world’s population.  So, about ninety-five per cent of the world’s languages are spoken by about six percent of the world’s population. The eight major languages spoken by about half of the world’s population or four billion speakers are  English, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Bengali, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, and French.  (Ethnologue: https/ These eight languages are known as global languages. Most of the eight global languages endanger indigenous languages in complex multilingual and multicultural speech communities worldwide.

World languages are not evenly distributed across the continents of the world. Nettle and Romaine (2000:32) assert that ‘there are two great belts of high density; one running from the West Africa coast through the Congo basin and to East Africa and another rising from South India and Peninsula South East Asia into the Islands of Indonesia, New Guinea, and the Pacific.’

Below is a table of eight countries that are complexly multilingual and multicultural.

Table 1 Some Multilingual and Multicultural Countries of the World

Name of Country                     Number of Languages
Papua New Guinea                    840
Indonesia    711
Nigeria 517
India 456
USA      300
Mexico     297
China  295

                     (source: https// language)

So, Nigeria is the world’s third most complexly multilingual and multicultural country, based on the table above.

The number of languages spoken in the world’s five continents is unevenly distributed. Asia is the most complexly multilingual continent, while Europe is the least multilingual. Below is a chart of the percentage of world languages spoken in each of the five continents.

Figure 1. The proportion of languages in each continent of the world. (Source: Austin, P.K. and Sallabank, J. (2012:5)

The chart above illustrates the number of languages spoken on the world’s five continents. So, Asia is the most multilingual continent in the world, with 33% of the world’s languages, while Europe is the least since it accounts for just 3% of the world’s languages.

World Englishes

The mustard seed metaphor can aptly be used to describe the rise of the English language as a vernacular language from a small Island to become the world’s most formidable language. (Robert King 2009:1)

English evolved as a member of the Anglo-Saxon group of the West Germanic family of languages. It was a vernacular language between the 4th and 14th century A.D. During this period, Latin was the preeminent language of scholarship. Today, Latin is extinct, while English is now the world’s most important language. Latin is now used mainly as the language of liturgy in Catholic churches worldwide.

English is a member of the Anglo-Saxon group of the West Germanic family of languages and is now a world property. Formerly, English used to be the second language with the most speakers; however, it has now surpassed Mandarin Chinese as the language with the highest number of speakers, as shown in the table below.

Table 2: Top five languages By Number of Speakers.

LanguageTotal Number of Speakers
English                                1.462 billion total speakers
Mandarin Chinese1.119 billion total speakers
Hindi                                   602 billion total speakers
Spanish                               559 million total speakers
Standard Arabic274 million total speakers

(Source: https// magazine)

English now has the most extensive distribution of speakers worldwide since the language is spoken across the five continents. In terms of varieties, English cannot be regarded as a monolithic entity. Kachru et al. (2009: XXVII) asserts that:  ‘World Englishes ‘is now an umbrella term referring to a wide range of differing approaches to the description of English(es)  worldwide.’

The appellation ‘World Englishes’ was first used in 1978 at a conference called the InternationalAssociation of World Englishes at the University of Illinois; Urbana Champaign and Kachru and Smith organized it.  When Kachru and Smith took over the editorship of the Journal titled World Language English in 1985, they retitled it World Englishes. Kachru and Smith (1985:210) opine that World Englishes symbolizes a new idea, a new credo for which the plural ‘Englishes was significant. They added that ‘Englishes’ is the international acculturation of English in West Africa, Southern Africa, and South Asia, where English is a localized form. World Englishes also includes the Caribbean and the countries where English is a mother tongue or a first language, like the USA, U.K., Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. World Englishes is now also known as International Englishes or Global Englishes.

Schneider (2011:32) stated that Braj Kachru developed his ‘Three Circles’ of World Englishes in several of his articles published in the 1980s and in Kachru’s edited volume, The Other Tongue.

So, English as a Native language ENL appears as the ‘Inner Circle.’ ESN English as a Second Language ESN represents the outer Circle’ while English as a Foreign Language EFL represents the expanding Circle.

Below is a graphic representation of the Three Circles of World Englishes

Figure 2: Graphic representation of Kachru’s ‘Three Circles’ of World Englishes model from Schneider (2011:32)

However, it is pertinent to note that the speakers of the three circles of world Englishes are not mutually exclusive in their respective speech communities because of constant interlocution between them. A Nigerian who speaks outer English and listens to CNN or BBC News is interacting with an inner-circle English speaker. The interrelationship between the three circles is graphically shown below.

        Fig. 3

Source: Bhatia, Tej K and Ritchie, W.C (2014:565)

The Inner Circle English speakers are native speakers, and they are found in countries like the U.K., USA, Canada, and New Zealand. Outer circle speakers are found in ex-colonies of Great Britain, now known as Anglophone African and Asian countries. They include Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, and South Africa in Africa; India, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Papua New Guinea in Asia. World Englishes have undergone indigenization and hybridization in countries where outer circle Englishes are spoken. Expanding circle Englishes are spoken in countries where neither inner nor outer circle Englishes are spoken. These countries have no historical affiliation with Great Britain. Such countries include Togo, Angola, Japan, China, Bolivia, Brazil, Spain, and France.

Butler (1997:107) observes that centrifugal and centripetal forces buffet World Englishes. American English constitutes the centripetal force since it is equated with world Englishes because American culture and American English are pervasive worldwide. The centripetal forces constitute the new Englishes spoken in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, where the use of local lexical items has found its way into the English vocabulary.

 The centripetal forces constitute what Kachru and Smith (1985:210) call the localized or indigenized form of English. These localized forms are found in oral speech and creative works of writers from countries where New Englishes are spoken. Bolton (2009:242) states that the ‘new varieties of English may be likened to a transplanted tree.’ He adds that if the transplanted tree is adequately nurtured,  it will grow into a healthy and vigorous plant and contribute ‘ to the beauty of the international landscape not only by its lush verdant branches and leaves but more importantly by its fruits – the literary masterpieces of novels, short stories, poems and songs of its speakers and writers.’

New Englishes

When the British Empire collapsed in the 20th century and many countries gained their independence in Africa and Asia, the leaders of the newly independent countries retained English as their respective country’s official language. The Englishes spoken in these countries now constitute the New Englishes.  New Englishes encompasses the disparate or divergent approaches that have now been adopted to describe and analyze Englishes worldwide. New Englishes focuses on inclusivity and pluricentrality, regional and national varieties. (Schneider, 2011; Kachru, Kachru and Nelson 2009)

In this lecture, New Englishes are spoken in former colonies of Great Britain, which Kachru (1986) categorized as outer Circle Englishes. New Englishes are spoken mainly in Asia and African. Englishes spoken in the Caribbean are also categorized as New Englishes due to the predominance of Caribbean Creole that predominate the Island. Mufwene (2001) describes the Creoles spoken in the Caribbean as English-based Creoles or English Creoles. Caribbean Creoles are regarded as dialects of English.

India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka are the East Asian countries where new Englishes are spoken. There is appropriation and nativization of languages in East Asia. The countries where new Englishes are spoken in South East Asia are Singapore, Malaysia, and Philipines. The new Englishes spoken in these countries are the products of their colonial histories. The Englishes are also known as Imperial Englishes (Bautista & Gonzalez, 2009, p. 130)

Mixed languages have evolved in some countries where New Englishes spoken in Asia. Two examples of mixed languages are Hinglish (Hindi and English) in India and Singlish (Singaporean language(s) and English in Singapore. (Schneider, 2011).

East Africa and West Africa are the two main regions where new Englishes are spoken in Africa, known as East African Englishes and West African Englishes. Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania are the countries where East African Englishes is spoken. Outer circle Englishes is spoken in these three countries. There is an asymmetrical relationship between English and the indigenous languages spoken in the three countries.

In Anglophone West African countries, English is the language of administration, education, examination, job interviews, civil service promotion tests, aptitude tests e, and Liberia. Pidgins and creoles are spoken in these four countries. These four, and judiciary. Omoniyi, T. (2009:181)notes that Nollywood and ‘the growth of digital media technology’ in Nigeria have added to the complexity of New Englishes in Nigeria.  The countries where New Englishes are spoken in West Africa include Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Lione. These countries are complexly multilingual. Ideally, there is supposed to be symmetrical multilingualism in these countries. Assymetrical multilingualism is obtained since the languages are not of equal status. Asymmetrical multilingualism is a feature that permeates all countries where outer Englishes or New Englishes are spoken in Asia and Africa. Due to the high status of English in these countries, there is a relationship in which one at least of the languages, in this case, English, has a superior status.’ (Kamwangamalu, N.K (2009:159)

Language Contact: New Englishes In Nigerian Linguistic Ecology

Contact linguistics is a branch of Linguistics that discusses and evaluates the outcome of contact between languages. It is the bedrock of bilingual and multilingual studies.  Winford (2003:36) states that ‘contact linguistics is par excellence a cross-disciplinary field that shows the integration of social and the linguistics in a unified framework.’

With a population of about two hundred and twenty-seven million people, Nigeria is a complexly multilingual and multicultural spehech community ( The number of indigenous languages spoken in the country varies between four hundred and five hundred. (https: translators without borders .com; Hansford et al. (1976:84). While Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa are the majority languages, others are categorized as minority ones. Nigerian English is the country’s official language. At the same time, N.P. is the language for wider communication between the different ethnic groups, especially in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Arabic is the language of the Islamic religion, mainly in the northern part of the country. Social media-mediated language is used in social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Tik Tok.  There is language contact between the various languages spoken in the country. The four subcomponents of New Englishes in Nigeria constitute a continuum.

Table 3:                                    New Englishes in Nigeria

Nigerian English           Nigerian Pidgin             Nigerian English/            Social Media Platforms English

Nigerian Pidgin             Facebook, WhatsApp,   

code switching             Instagram, TikTok

Nigerian English is the nation’s official language. It is the language of administration, education, interviews, and examinations. Nigerian English is the language of upward socio-economic and political mobility in Nigeria. However, some words from Nigerian languages have entered the Nigerian English lexicon. Butler (1977:30) states that New Englishes is ‘the level of world Englishes is the purely local culture and sense of identity.’

Bamgbose (1995) calls this the indigenization or nativization of Nigerian English.  In Nigeria, for example, some words from indigenous languages Nigerian English lexicon include: Akara (bean cake), suya (roasted beef), danfo (commercial bus), molue (big commercial bus) moi moi (cooked ground beans), nyash (buttocks mainly of women), gele (women’s head tie). There are also some words in Nigerian English lexicon that have undergone semantic extension, A few examples include: pure water, disvirgin, tokunbo, 419 and Belgium, These nativized and semantically extended words are contextualized in the sentences below.


a)       I ate akara and akamu for breakfast.

b)       My wife prefers moin moin and akamu for breakfast.

c)       This suya is too peppery.

d)       My daughter prefers to tie gele rather than wear a hat.

e)       My mother will travel from Yaba to Lagos Island by molue this morning; she doesn’t have money for Uber.

f)        That lady with big ikebe/nyash is my friend.

g)        My teacher bought one pure water (one sachet water)

h)        Your boyfriend is a 419 (a fraudster).

i)         That lady’s dress, wig, bag and shoes are Belgium (second hand).

j)          He disvirgined his girlfriend last week.(deflowered).

k)         My sister bought a tokunbo Toyota car yesterday, (second hand)        

Another feature of the nativization of Nigerian English is the influence of the tonal structure of Nigerian languages. So, Nigerian English can be called a tone language, while British and American English can be called stress-timed languages.  So, Nigerian English speakers speak with an accent.

Nigerian Pidgin

Holm (1988:409) states that Nigerian Pidgin is a member of West African Pidgins. West African Pidgin is a member of English-based Atlantic pidgins and creoles. He adds that West African Pidgin is divided into three parts: Sierra Leonean Krio, Liberian Kru, and West African Pidgin English (WAPE).

West African Pidgin English is further subdivided into three, and they are   Ghanian Pidgin, Nigerian Pidgin, and Cameroonian Pidgin. The three members of WAPE are mutually intelligible. Holm (1988:423)  calls West African Pidgins ‘restricted English in West Africa.’ Holm (1988:426) states that:

‘West African Pidgins includes many varieties which range from rudimentary pidgins and highly expanded creole-like varieties that serve as primary language for millions of West Africans.’

 N.P. evolved as a contact between the people of the Niger Delta and British traders to transact business. (Elugbe and Omamor 1991). N.P. is ethnically neutral (Egbokhare, 2021:114). BBC now has a Pidgin service. There is also the predorminantly N.P. Nigerian broadcast service is known as WAZOBIA FM. In terms of widespread users, N.P. is to Nigeria what world Englishes is to the world. The speakers are projected to treble to 300 million in 2050 (Faraclas, 2021:15). N.P. is now a symbol of shared identity to Nigerians, and that was why Naija was coined for the language in 2009 at the IFRA conference due to its characteristics as the authentic Nigerian lingua franca. It is the language of standup comedy and advertising in Nigeria.

NP evolved as a contact language from the interaction between the British traders to transact business and Indigenous languages of the present-day Niger Delta region of Nigeria (Elugbe & Omamor, 1991). NP is ethnically neutral (Mowarin, 2021).The lexicon of NP. is mostly from English, while the syntax is from Nigerian Languages.  Proof of this is the derivation of the Yes/No question in Nigerian Pidgin.


a)       You are eating to derive:  Are you eating? (English)

b)       Yu dey eat               Yu sey eat?  (N.P.)

c)       Wo ri-emu:              Wo ri-emu re? (Urhobo)

      English                                                                 Nigerian Pidgin


Fig. 4

Structurally, statements and Yes/No questions in N.P. and Urhobo are identical. This highlights the fact that the two languages are syntactically identical. The tree diagrams above are based on Chomsky’s Principles and Parameters theory of Transformational Generative Grammar.  (1982)

N.P.  is now the language of undergraduates, graduates, and lecturers in tertiary institutions. (Akande and Salami:    2021).    

N.P. has no ethnic affiliation, identifiable geographical territory, and, therefore, no political constituency. N.P. is not perceived as competing with indigenous languages.

N.P. has evolved a national consensus called Naija consciousness (also written as 9ja). It captures the aspiration for a shared identity (Egbokhare, 2021). ‘Naija may be seen as a statement by the youths, a popular movement, a culture, a mindset, a Nigerianess.’ Egbokhare (2021:111).It is the Diaspora language of Nigerians in the USA, Canada, the U.K., and Germany (Adegoke 2019; Mair 2021).  Below are examples of advertisements and invitations in NP..

PIDGIN Billboard Adverts

Fig. 5 Adverts in N.P. (Source: Egbokhare 2021: 90 )

Fig. 6. Wedding Invitation card in N.P. (Source: Egbokhare 2021:91)

Recently, N.P. has now used for invitation cards like the wedding invitation card above. Wedding invitation cards are usually written in English. This is one of the instances of N.P. playing a marked role since it is unusual to see wedding invitation cards in N.P. (Myers Scotton 1993). The wedding invitation in N.P. is an instance of N.P. playing a marked function.

There are now poetry collections in N.P. by renowned Nigerian poets. Nigerian Hip Hop musicians also use N.P. These musicians mainly engage in N.P. – non-indigenous languages in their music. It is used in the Nigerian film industry, known as Nollywood. One reason for the preference of N.P. for English is because English is too formalized and has ‘too much grammar,’ according to critics. 

Stand-up comedy is a multi-billion Naira entertainment industry, and Nigerian Pidgin is the primary language stand-up comedians use in their comedic acts. In addition, standup comedians also engage in N.P.–English code-switching in their comedies. N.P. is usually the superstrate language, while English is the substrate language when there are cases of code-switching in standup comedies. It is pertinent to state here that most pioneers and stars of standup comedy in Nigeria are products of Delta State University. So, a historical overview of the development of Standup comedy in Nigeria will not be complete without mentioning the invaluable role of Delta State University in educating these pioneer standup comedians who also function as Master of Ceremony at parties and other social events.

Lecturers and students in the Department of English and Literary studies have done extensive researches on Nigerian standup comedy. Mowarin, M and Emama, E (2020), (2024) are two publications by lecturers in the Department. Undergraduate and postgraduate students of the Department of English and Literary Studies have written projects and dissertations on the language of standup comedy. A PhD student in the Department is writing his thesis on the multimodality of Nigerian standup comedy.

Before 2019, when the idea of publishing a new book on N.P. was muted, only two N.P. textbooks were available: Nigerian Pidgin (1991) by Elugbe and Omamor and Nigerian Pidgin (1996) by Faraclas. In 2021, a new textbook on N.P. titled Current Trends in Nigerian Pidgin English: A Sociological Perspective was published by D. Gruyter Mouton Boston/Berlin. The three hundred and twenty-one pages textbook contains twelve chapters and was edited by Akinmade T. Akande, and Oladipo Salami . Delta State University Abraka was the only state university in Nigeria with a contributor. Only two universities in the south-south, Delta State University, Abraka and the University of Calabar, contributed chapters to the book. My paper titled ‘Topicalisation, Focus Construction and Emphatic Marker in Nigerian Pidgin’ is the textbook’s only contribution to the Syntax of Nigerian Pidgin in the recently published textbook.

Omoniyi (2009:181) notes, ‘ The growing use of digital media technology has added a new layer to the New Englishes spoken in Nigeria.’ The Englishes spoken or written in social medium platforms which include Facebook, WhatsApp, TikTok, and Instagram are novel. Apart from increasing the vocabulary of Nigerian English, they also have unique syntactic structures.  Some new vocabularies include ‘voice note,’ ‘shadow ban, and data saver (Omoniyi 2009). There are many initialisms and abbreviations; an attempt is made to evolve a one-to-one correspondence between spoken and orthographic English on social media platforms.

Below is a table of some habitual use of SMS abbreviations and their morphological processes.

Table 4: SMS Abbreviations by Nigerian Social Media Platform Users.d

Standard Form           SMS Form                Morphological Processes

The                               D                             Phonetic representation

You                              U                            Phonetic  representation

Your                             Ur                          Vowel  deletion

Okay                             Ok                         Vowel deletion.

Week                            Wk                         Vowel deletion

Hour                             Hr                           Vowel deletion

And                              Nd                          Vowel deletion

And                              &                            Symbol representation

At                                 @                           Symbol representation

Tomorrow                    2moro                     Vowel deletion/alphanumeric abbreviation

Night                            Nite                        Form simplification.

Forgive                          4giv                       Alphanumeric abbreviation

Someone                       some1                    Alphanumeric abbreviation

English language teachers believe social media English spellings now constitute a barrier to competence in English among secondary school students since their compositions are suffused by the non standard social media Englishes. The main reason for SMS abbreviations among Nigerians is to conserve time and space.

Code Mixing and Code Switching

Code mixing and code-switching involve the alternation between grammatical constituents of two languages. Nigeria has Nigerian Pidgin – English code-switching and English – Indigenous languages code switching.  Muysken (2005:304) distinguishes between code mixing and code switching thus:

‘Some authors have used the term code–switching when describing alternation between larger units like clauses and code-mixing which discusses alternation internal to the utterance or clause.’

Mowarin (2014:14) focuses on using bilingual verbs in Nigerian Pidgin – English Code Mixing. Code-switching has become pervasive in Nigerian hip-hop music. In addition, it has become a part of the repertoire of Nigerian utterances. In Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, Nigerian Pidgin – English code-switching and indigenous languages – Nigerian Pidgin code-switching has become pervasive.

So, New Englishes in Nigeria is a continuum that includes Nigerian English; Nigerian Pidgin;  Code Switching between Nigerian English and Nigerian Pidgin on the one hand and Nigerian English/Nigerian Pidgin and indigenous languages on the other hand; and social media platform English.

The Salubrious Effect of Complex Triglossia between New Englishes and Urhobo In Urhoboland Linguistic Ecology.

 Urhobo language is spoken mainly in Delta State and part of Bayelsa state.  Aziza and Mowarin (2005/2006:56) state that: ‘Urhobo is a Southwestern Edoid language, itself a member of the Benue-Congo group of the Niger-Congo phylum (Williamson & Blench, 2000).’  It is generally estimated to have about two million speakers. (Aweto).  Urhobo is a minority language in Nigeria.   Urhobo is a tone language that has a register tone system with two-level tones, Low (L0W and HIGH (h), and a lexical downstep (Aziza (2003)

‘Urhobo is an SVO language. Tone and intonation interact very closely; as in most tone languages, tone is used to manifest intonation. Based on intonation, the tones of the question are perceived to be higher than those of the statement, and the downdrift noticeable in statements is absent in questions.’ (Aziza & Mowarin (2005/2006:57)

Table 5: South Western Edoid languages.

In Urhoboland, there is language contact between Urhobo and New Englishes. While Nigerian English and Urhobo are natural languages, Nigerian Pidgin is a contact language that evolved from contact between British merchants and Nigerians from the country’s coastal regions. English is N.P.’s superstrate language, while the indigenous languages constitute the substrate languages.

The variety of N.P. spoken in Urhoboland is known as pidgincreole and not a pidgin, a class between Pidgin and Creole. Bakker, P (2008:139) states that:

‘A PidginCreole is a restructured language that is the primary language of a speech community or which has become the native language for some of the speakers. In practice, it is often hard to draw a line between pidgins and pidgincreoles or between pidgincreoles and creoles. Pidgincreoles may have a few native speakers, for example, the children of parents who shared no language but the Pidgin.’

In Urhoboland, the Pidgin spoken in parts of Effurun like Alaka and Alegbo and parts ofSapele like Urban area and Oguaja are the creolized form. Expanded Pidgin is spoken in other parts of Uhoboland. Restricted English in West Africa is also known as pidgin creole. Pidgincreoles are spoken in the Pacific, and they have vernacular names like Tok Pisin (Papua New Guinea), Pijin,  Solomon Islands Pidgincreoles, and Bislama (Vanuatu) (Bakker, 2008:140)

The languages spoken in Urhobo land can be grouped into four and they are Nigerian English, Nigerian PidginCreole, social media-mediated Englishon platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and TikTok, and New English/Urhobo code switch forms, and Urhobo.A complex triglossic situation is suppose to exist between the languages spoken in Urhobo land. Each of the three languages has different codes; (Myers Scotton 1993). while Nigerian English is the high code, Nigerian Pidgin and its code-switched structures constitute the mid code, while Urhobo is the low code (Myers Scotton, 1993)

Nigerian English is the language used for education and formal communication in Urhoboland. Nigerian Pidgin and its code-switched structures are ideally used for informal communication between Urhobo people and members of other ethnic groups that are sandwiched between Urhobo. Finally, Urhobo is the language of intra-ethnic communication among Urhobo people. In addition, Urhobo is supposed to be the language of intergenerational transmission between parents and children at home in Urhoboland.There is, therefore, an asymmetrical multilingualism among the languages spoken in Urhonoland because of the power relations between these languages since the languages are of unequal status.

Nigerian English is the official language of Nigeria in general and Urhoboland in particular, and it is the language of socio-economic and political upward mobility. (Mowarin 2005)  Urhobo persons who are the political elites, academicians, and top civil servants in Delta state, Nigeria, and the Diaspora are competent speakers of English. In addition, they are highly educated with certificates and degrees from tertiary institutions in Nigeria and overseas universities. University lecturers, teachers, and top businessmen also fall into this group. In addition, creative artists include creative writers, fine artists, stand-up comedians, and some musicians who engage in English–Urhobo code-switching and are competent users of Nigerian English.  English is used as a medium of instruction in schools in Urhoboland. Due to the premium that parents place on competence in English, they have a positive attitude towards their children acquiring English and a negative attitude towards their children acquiring Urhobo. Parents know the importance and high-value currency of Nigerian English in Nigerian linguistic ecology.

 Based on the sociolinguistic variable on the most preferable language by Urhobo speakers, as shown below.

The most preferred language is English. In addition, the best spoken language is English, while the least spoken language is Urhobo.  Even the language spoken to children, English has a higher percentage than Urhobo. This shows that English is the most preferable concerning intergenerational transmission of language from parents to children.

Due to the positive attitude of Urhobo speakers to Nigerian English, Urhobo people regard English as their most preferred language.

The researcher surveyed the sociolinguistic function of Nigerian English, N.P., and code-switched structures when they come in contact with Urhobo and other Southwestern Edoid languages in multilingual Effurun/Sapele/Abraka/Ughelli Urhobo speech communities in Delta State. Participants were asked what language they use in various social contexts. In the survey below, children and adults were asked to indicate their attitude toward language usage.

The research question is:

What is the attitude of adults toward the usage of language (English, Nigerian Pidgin, mother tongue, and other languages)?

Table 6 presents the distribution of adults based on their attitude toward the usage of language.

Most preferred lang.1087.925618.7231.727241530
Best spoken lang.14110.321815.9231.7372.742031
Least spoken lang.16712.21319.5100.7523.835926
Lang spoke to children533.9785.7141302.217513

N = 1371

Table 5 shows that the most preferred language by adults was English (18.7%), the second most preferred language was Urhobo (7.9%), the third most preferred language was other languages (2%), and the least preferred language was Nigerian Pidgin (1.7%). The best-spoken language by adults was the English language (15.9%), the second best-spoken language was Urhobo (10.3%), the third best-spoken language was other languages (2.7%), and other languages (1.7%). The least spoken language by adults was Urhobo (12.2%), the second least spoken language was the English language (9.5%), the third least spoken language was other languages (3.8%), then Nigerian Pidgin (0.7%).  The majority of the adults agree that English language was the language spoken to children (5.7%), some speak Urhobo to children (3.9%), few speak other languages (2.2%), and very few speak Nigerian Pidgin (1%). The distribution is presented in figure 6

Figure 7 shows the distribution of adult’s attitudes toward language use. The figure shows that English was the most preferred, best-spoken, and mostly spoken to children. This could be because it is language assumed to be spoken and understood by all and hence preferred. It is also spoken to children to encourage them to speak English.Urhobo was the least spoken language, which could be accounted for by the respondents sampled.

Below is children’s distribution based on their Attitude to language usage based on the research question below.

What is children’s attitude toward the usage of language (English, Nigerian Pidgin, mother tongue, and other languages)?

Table 8: presents the distribution of children based on their attitude toward language usage.

Most Preferred Lang.695.634127.8100.8262.144536.0
Best Spoken Lang.846.832726.6211.7211.745237.0
Literacy in M.T28923.5282.3151.20033227.0

N = 1229

Table 6 shows that the most preferred language by children was English language (27.8%), the second most preferred language was Urhobo (5.6%), and the third most preferred language wasother languages (2.1%). The least preferred language was Nigerian Pidgin (0.8%). The best-spoken language by children, as expected, was the English language (26.6%), the second best-spoken language was Urhobo (6.8%), and Nigerian Pidgin and other languages were the least spoken languages (1.7%).  Most literacy in M.T. was in Urhobo (23.5%), the second most in M.T. was in English, and the least in M.T. was in Nigerian Pidgin (1.2%) with no literacy in M.T. for other languages. The distribution is presented in figure 7

Figure 8 shows the distribution of children’s attitudes to language use. The figure shows that English is the children’s most preferred and best-spoken language.

The most preferred language is English. In addition, the best-spoken language is English, while the least-spoken language is Urhobo.  Even the language spoken to children, English has a higher percentage than Urhobo. This shows that English is the most preferable concerning intergenerational transmission of language from parents to children. Due to the positive attitude of Urhobo speakers to Nigerian English, Urhobo people regard English as their most preferred language.  The fact that English is the most preferred and best-spoken language from the graph above would have some deleterious effects on the Urhobo.Respondents did not distinguish between English and N.P. in their questionnaire. The respondents in the questionnaires did not distinguish between Nigerian English and N.P.since they regard the two subcomponents of Nigerian Englishes as a continuum.

Nigerian Pidgin Creole, the variety of Nigerian Pidgin spoken in Urhobo, has also played positive roles in Urhoboland. Urhoboland as a speech community has language exogamy since members of other ethnic groups helm in the three languages that constitute Urhobo ethnic nationality. The polyglossic situation in Urhobo land made it imperative for Urhobo people to develop an ethnically neutral language that can be used for inter-ethnic communication. Urhobo people are hedged in by the Bini in the North, the Itsekiri and Ijaw in the South, and Isoko and Ukwani in the East. Language and cultural contact between Urhobo people and member of these other ethnic groups is facilitated by the use of Nigerian Pidgin. In addition, the coexistence between the three languages that constitute Urhobo ethnic nationality is also facilitated by the use of Nigerian Pidgin in Urhoboland.

The contentious issue of the ideal variety of English to be used by creative artists has occupied the front burner of creative discourse for the past half-century. Soyinka and Achebe advocated using the hybridized and nativized variety of English to properly carry African socio-cultural settings and milieu. Achebe (1975:4)  succinctly describes the ideal new Englishess for African writers thus:

The African writer should aim to use English in a way that brings out his message best without altering the language to the extent that its value as a medium of International exchange will not be lost. He should aim at fashioning out an English that is at once universal and able to carry his peculiar experience.

Two such creative uses of language include N.P. and code-switched structures. Creative writers of Urhobo extraction have also utilized N.P. in their creative writings.   Two such creative writers are Tanure Ojaide and Hope Eghagha. Both of them have written poems in N.P. Some of the poems include Ojaide (2015): ‘Mek we dey chop akara dey go’    Eghagha, ‘Salute to the Generals’ (2002), and ‘Na the same contri we dey? (2006) are Eghagha’s Pidgin poems.   Below is Ojaide’s poem titled: ‘Mek We dey chop Akara dey Go’

3.        Mek we dey chop akara dey go

We dey chop akara dey go

If moin moin no dey.

We ask for resource control

Gove’ment give us NDDC.

We seek development for the community

They build service roads to flow stations

We dey chop akara dey go.

If moin moin no dey.

They hanged our standard bearer

And made 2 i/c of a nincompoop

Code Switching

Among youths, especially undergraduates, N.P.- Urhobo code-switching is common. Below is data from utterances between undergraduates of Delta State University who are Urhobo youths and undergraduates. There is a dramatic increase in the number of code-switching, and the increase highlights the fact that the languages in Urhoboland are endangered.  When Urhobo speakers communicate in N.P. under an informal setting, they code mix Urhobo words, as shown in the utterances by Urhobo students of Delta State University.

4a.      My gelfrend na gedu.         She no sabi do the do.    I don taya for am.

My girlfriend is a log of wood.      She is not good in bed. I’m fed up with her.

4b.      My babe dey catch fire well well.  She sabi do the thing die.

          My girlfriend really catches fire.   She is very good in bed.

For (4a), Gedu is an Urhobo word that means timber. It is used metaphorically to denote a lady who is not adept at sex.

5a.      How your abaka? You dey see am for bed sef?

           How is your butterfly? Do you use to see her in bed?

5b.      Abeg, leave my legelege lekpa alone. A no dey like orobo.

          Please, leave my slim, elegant lady alone. I don’t like fat girls.

Abaka is an Urhobo word that means grasshopper, while legelege lekpa means a slim girl. Orobo means a fat lady. These Urhobo words have now been code mixed by the Urhobo speakers in their conversations. It is pertinent to state here that a non-Urhobo speaker at Delta State University will know the meaning of their Urhobo words because the words have now entered the Nigerian Pidgin lexicon.

6a.      My gelfrend urukpe don quench.

          My girlfriend’s light has gone off.

6b.      My girlfriend head light dey shine waa.

Urukpe is an Urhobo word that means light. It is used metaphorically by speakers in (6a & b) to mean a lady’s breast. So, a drooping breast means a car’s headlight has quenched, while a firm breast means the headlight is shining.

The fact that these speakers can utter some words in Urhobo shows their partial competence in Urhobo.

Code-switching and cushioning are two linguistic devices Urhobo creative writers employ to situate themselves as Urhobo writers socio-culturally. Tanure Ojaide and Hope Eghagha are two poets who have employed these two linguistic devices in their poetry.  Jackson (1990:8) calls these devices ‘Linguistic deviation in African literature.’ Cushioning is another device used by the two poets. Mowarin (2009:91) states that cushioning is a linguistic device that directly transfers words from indigenous languages, in this case, Urhobo, into the text and the accompaniment of such words with their English gloss.

Code-switching is also prominently utilized by Ojaide and Eghagha in their creative works, mostly poems. The two poets engage mainly in English – Urhobo code-switching.  The poets also engage in cushioning.

Below are a few examples of code-switching and cushioning from their respective collection of poetry.


Tanure Ojaide’s Songs of Myself



Dede-e dede-e

Gently and steadily, the old man pulls the thread of the loom.

Dede-e dede-e: Onomatopoeia expression of ‘gently’ in the Urhobo language.

8.       Questing

I come to you, Erwerhe-Ame, the far-sighted deity.

You who lead the quester to find what he seeks.

Evwerhe Amre: deity for seeking and finding: also by implication of success and greatness.

Effurun Market.

On this day, we are devotees of Egba who must be cheered by the crowd assembled in his shadow to entertain him.

Egba: God of war of the Uvwie people of Effurun in Delta State, Nigeria.

Hope Eghagha’s Poetry

9.        Rhythms of the Last Testament.

The cannons give way to songs.

No one dares naked mothers.


Naked mothers

Leave their pots behind

Skeletons behind


e – ye!     P.52

10.      The call of Akpobrisi

Do you hear?

Do you hear Akpobrisi’s call?

Do not answer

Do not answer

Do not step into the abyss while

Your sun glows.

So, eweya,  Evwerhe Amre and Egba are cushioned loan words used by the poets in their poetry to project Urhobo language and culture to their readers worldwide.

Standup comedy is a multi-billion Naira industry, and some of the country’s prominent stand-up comedians are of Urhobo extraction. Some of them include Ali baba (Atunyota Alleluya Akpobome). He is the pioneer of Standup comedy in Nigeria. He is popularly known as ‘The King of Comedy’. .Ali baba and other standup comedians of Urhobo extraction have become wealthy by using N.P. in their creative craft.  He has inspired many young Urhobo people who have ventured into standup comedy as a profession. Ali baba’s January 1st concert by Ali Baba remains at the nodal point of stand comedic events in Nigeria.

N.P. has also become a language of commercial value to Urhobo in the entertainment industry. Subcomponents of the entertainment industry include music, the Nigerian film industry known as Nollywood, and standup comedy. Nigerian standup comedy is a multibillion Naira entertainment industry. Urhobo artists participate actively in the entertainment industry.

Urhobo – New Englishes code-switching is a new speech repertoire that is evolving in Urhoboland. This new speech code is prominent among the youth. Below are some examples of these code-switched structures by Delta State University Abraka students who are of Urhobo extraction. It is believed that code mixing and code switching will help to revitalize the Urhobo language, which is now endangered.

Deleterious Effect of New Englishes on Urhobo: Language Endangerment

Despite the numerous salubrious effects of the contact of New Englishes with Urhobo, this contact also has its antipodal effects.

The first converse effect of the contact between the new Englishes and Urhobo in Urhoboland is that any Urhobo person not adept in Nigerian English is socio-economically and politically disadvantaged. The person cannot seek higher political office or aspire to become a top civil servant, a lecturer in any of the tertiary institutions, or even a primary or secondary school teacher. In addition, any Urhobo person experiencing a language deficit in N.P. will also find it challenging to engage in interlocution with Urhbobo neighboring communities who speak different languages. So, while knowledge of English is socio-politically beneficial, knowledge of N.P. is socially necessary to the Urhobo people. So, language deficit in New Englishes by an Urhobo person will definitely constitute a socio-economic barrier. Egbokhare (2004:8) aptly defines language deficit-induced barrier thus:

‘Language may be a barrier in several ways.  To the extent that it can confer social, political, educational, and cultural privileges, it becomes a barrier to those who do not and cannot enjoy such privileges. In this way, language may become a barrier to exclusion.’

In order to overcome this language deficit and break the barrier of exclusion, Urhobo speakers should be balanced multilingual in Nigerian English, N.P., and Urhobo.

The second and more critical converse effect of the contact between new Englishes and Urhobo is the language shift from Urhobo to new Englishes.  This has resulted in the endangerment of the three languages spoken in Urhoboland. Uvwie is the most endangered because the language has the least number of speakers; what is more, Uvwie is spoken mainly in a cosmopolitan area.   This language shift has resulted in a decrease in the number of Urhobo speakers. Ideally, in a complex triglossic situation in Urhoboland, the three languages are supposed to play mutually exclusive roles. Unfortunately, there is now an encroachment on the roles that Urhobo is supposed to play. This language shift is not peculiar to Urhobo. Language shift is a problem other Nigerian languages and other African languages in countries where new Englishes are spoken. This situation also happens in Asia and the Pacific. A country in the Pacific where Papua New Guinea English and Tok Pisin play identical roles with Nigerian English and Nigerian Pidgincreole in Urhoboland is Papua New Guinea.

 Language endangerment and linguicide now occupy the front burner of research in contact linguistics. Crystal (2000:68) observes that languages have always died. He adds that as cultures have risen and fallen, so their language has emerged and disappeared. He identified seventy-five extinct languages that have been spoken in Europe and Asia Minor. Crystal (2000:24) adds that there are several parts of the world where there are no indigenous languages left. He states‘that all the Arwaken and Caribbean languages originally spoken on the Island of the Caribbean are now extinct.’

Bradley & Bradley (2002:xi) give an insight into the state of endangered languages in the nearest future when they observe: ‘Various scholars have estimated that up to 90 percent of the world’s languages will disappear during the 21st century unless- and maybe perhaps even if- we do something new.’

Egbokhare (2004:13) observes this premonition by Bradley and Bradley when he cast a bleak picture of the future of African languages thus:

There is a grim prediction that in the next 50 – 100 years, 90 percent of the languages of Africa will be extinct. This, if allowed to happen, will be a tragedy given the vast information base and folk wisdom that will perish. It touches on our identity and our continued existence as a people.

The kernel of Egbokhare’s discourse on the endangerment of African languages is the negative attitude that speakers of African languages have towards their indigenous languages where new Englishes are spoken.

 Egbokghare (2004) observes that African languages are marginalized because Africans believe that their languages are not socially and economically valuable to them. What is more, in the modern age of technological advancement and information technology, African languages are increasingly becoming a handicap, if not a liability.

Spencer (1971:211) observes the negative attitude of West Africans in Anglophone countries about half a century ago:

In the Westernized sectors of West African life, English was, of course, held at a high premium. For an African who has access to education, the English language was a means of advancement. It was a gateway to a government or commercial office job.

 Ngugi Wa Thiongo (1993;35) corroborates Spencer’s assertion that Anglophone Africans place a high premium on English  when he  describes English as ‘a language that flourished on the graveyard of other people’s languages.’

 Vivande de Klerk (1996:17) remarks that ‘even the strongest opponents of English see to it that their own loved ones master the language.’

In a triglossic situation where three languages exist side by side in a speech community, there are differences in codes based on the prestige of each of the three languages. English is High, Nigerian Pidgin is Mid, and Urhobo is low. Since Urhobo is the least on the ladder, there is bound to be a language shift by Urhobo speakers from their language to the other two languages.

English and its Pidgin are the most preferred languages in Urhhoboland. In the questionnaire administered to respondents, even in markets in Effurun, Sapele, Abraka, and Ughelli, respondents did not distinguish between English and N.P.

In an Ideal triglossic situation in Urhoboland, Urhobo is supposed to be the languageof intra-ethnic communication. It should be the language used in the family. New Englishes have encroached into the homes of Urhobo families. New Englishes are now spoken among family members, as shown in the table and the chart below.

Attitude of Students’ Usage of Language

Public and Private school distribution based on their Attitude to the usage of language

Table 8 presents the distribution of the attitude of public and private school students’ to usage of language.

  PUBLICMost Preferred Language Usage788.235637.3171.8242.547649.8
Best Spoken Language697.238340.1242.540.447950.2
Least Spoken Language0000000000.0
Literacy in MT0000000000.0
PRIVATEMost Preferred Language Usage153.913936.471.9102.617144.9
Best Spoken Language123.216643.571.971.919350.6
Least Spoken Language153.90020.600174.5
Literacy in MT0000000000.0

N for Public  =955

N for Private  =382

Table 13 shows that for public school students,  the most preferred language was English language (37.3%), the second most preferred language was Urhobo (8.2%), the third most preferred language was other languages (2.5%), and the least preferred language was Nigerian Pidgin (1.8%). The best spoken language, as expected, was the English language (40.1%), the second best spoken language was Urhobo (7.2%), Nigerian Pidgin (2.5%) were the third, and other languages were the least spoken languages (0.4%). 

For the private school students, table 13 shows the most preferred language was English language (36.4%), the second most preferred language was Urhobo (3.9%), the third most preferred language and other languages (2.6%), and the least preferred language was Nigerian Pidgin (1.9%). The best-spoken language, as expected, was the English language (43.5%), the second best-spoken language was Urhobo (3.2%), and Nigerian Pidgin and other languages (1.9%) were the third.  Urhobo is the least spoken language (3.9%) then the Nigerian Pidgin (0.6%). The distribution is presented in Figures 16 and 17

Figure 9. Distribution of the attitude of public school students’ to usage of language.

Figure 16 shows that the English language is the most preferred and best spoken language than Urhobo.

Figure 10.Distribution of the attitude of private school students’ to usage of language.

Figure 10 shows that the English language is the most preferred and best spoken language than Urhobo. Urhobo is the least spoken language by private school students.

The use of new Englishes in homes of Urhobo family members has reduced intergenerational transmission of Urhobo from parents to children. So, Nigeria and Urhoboland is culturally and linguistically a colonized speech community (2005:527).  This is why there is an asymmetrical relationship between the languages in Urhoboland.

Bamgbose (1995:210 was accurate in his observation that ‘English language has undergone modification in Nigeria environment. It has been indigenized, nativized, acculturated, and twisted to express accustomed concepts and modes of communication.Ideally, new Englishes are supposed to exist in harmony with Urhobo but new Englishes create tension due to their economic and social power. As Webb & Kembo (2001:41) aptly put it, ‘People tend to learn the language that is socially and economically useful to them. This is the linguistic definition of the law of maximum return.’

In Urhoboland, monolingualism in Nigerian English, as well as its Pidgin, is fast becoming a norm among Urhobo children. Monolingualism is detrimental to the mental development of Urhobo children. Kluger (2013) calls monolingualism ‘the illiteracy of the 21st century.’ He identifies the power of the bilingual/multilingual brain when he states that multilingual people are better at reasoning, multitasking, at grasping and reconciling conflicting ideas. He concludes that bilinguals are faster and make fewer mistakes than monolinguals. The bilingual children in Urhoboland have been described as reversed asymmetrical bilinguals because they acquire new Englishes first before they learn Urhobo (Osakwe, 2011). So, monolingualism is a mental impediment to the Urhobo child. Urhobo speakers are engaging in a language shift towards monolingualism because Urhoboland is presently a linguistically and culturally colonized speech community.

N.P. is supposed to be a language of inter-ethnic communication between members of ethnic communities that surround Urhoboland. The Urhobo people are surrounded by the Binis in the North, the Itsekiris and Ijaws in the south, and the Isokos and Ukwanis in the east. Urhobo people communicate informally with members of these ethnic groups in N.P. is the language that is ideally used for inter-ethnic communication. Unfortunately, N.P. has now penetrated the homes of the Urhobo people, and it is now used for intra-ethnic communication among the Urhobo people. In addition, language and cultural contact between the Urhobo and other neighbouring ethnic groups are having a retrogressive assimilatory effect on Urhobo, thereby endangering Urhobo.  So, Nigerian English, as well as its Pidgin, is now a marked form when it is used in homes by Urhobo people since it is a language of intergenerational transmission from parents to children. This fact is buttressed by the sociolinguistic variable of language use in homes by families of Urhobo. It is noticed that more children use new Englishes at home than Urhobo.

Inter-tribal marriages are also a factor that resulted in the endangerment of Urhobo language. N.P. being supposed to be the language of inter-ethnic communication, but it is now used for inter-ethnic communication in urban centers like Effurun, Sapele, Warri, Ughelli, Agbarho, Abraka, and Okpara in the shrinkage of Urhobo. Indeed, couples of these intertribal marriages speak Englishes, and when they deliver, they transmit New Englishes as the language of intergenerational transmission from parents to children. If the couple is educated, it is  Nigerian English that will be transmitted to the children, and if the couple is uneducated, Nigerian Pidgin will be transmitted to the children as the language of intergenerational transmission.

Revitalization of Urhobo Language

Presently, monolingualism in new Englishes is becoming a norm in Urhoboland because Urhoboland is presently a linguistically and culturally colonized speech community. There is a need for Urhobo people to reverse this negative trend because the Urhobo language is the key to the heart of Urhobo people. As the three languages of Urhobo culture are tottering inanely into their linguistic graves, Urhobo culture is also dying; so, it is imperative for speakers to revive their language(s) in order to preserve their cultural heritage. Only Urhobo people can revive their language by changing from their present negative attitude towards their language to a positive one. Bamgbose (1992:29) buttresses the importance of attitudinal change by speakers of endangered languages when he states:

‘When all is said and done, the fate of an endangered language may well be in the hands of owners of the language themselves and in their will to make it survive.’Once there is a change from the present negative attitude to a positive one towards the languages of Urhobo culture, the languages may well survive.

It is possible to project that by 2050, Urhobo would not have experienced linguicide. The probable survival of Urhobo beyond 2050 is due to two factors and they are: first, Urhobo elites are making concerted efforts to project Urhobo language and culture. Urhobo language is taught in Primary secondary and tertiary institutions in Urhoboland, In addition, Urhobo elites award scholarships to Urhobo students studying Urhobo language in tertiary institutions, This positive attitudinal change has resulted in floating Urhobo school online where Urhobo language is taught. Two examples are the floating of Urhobo school online by Urhobo Progress Union, U.K., and Urhobo Progress Union America.

ICT has opened a world of possibilities for internet-savvy Urhobo children and youths to learn Urhobo online. Presently, there are about forty online Urhobo language teaching platforms on the internet. These new online teaching technologies for the learning of Urhobo are revitalizing the Urhobo language.

The presence of alphabetical Urhobo dictionaries and Urhobo-English bilingual dictionaries are playing invaluable roles in revitalizing the Urhobo language; Literacy in Urhobo will enhance the status of Urhobo. A deficit noticed with these online Urhobo learning platforms is that they focused mostly on learning and teaching Urhobo. There is the need to create and upload Okpe and Uvwie languages learning platforms.

Among Urhobo youths, two varieties of Urhobo are evolving. There is the variety of Urhobo spoken by children and youths in the rural area which is mostly untainted by new Englishes..Secondly, there is the variety of Urhobo spoken in urban centres like Uvwie, Warri, Ughelli, Sapele and Abraka which is code switched with new Englishes. A new mixed language would likely evolve from the avalanche of Urhobo and new Englishes spoken by Urhobo youths in urban centres by 2050. The mixed language can be called UrhoEnglishes. UrhoEnglishes will be a prototype of some mixed languages spoken in sub Saharan Africa, They include Sheng which is spoken by youths in the urban  centres of Kenya,  Tsotsitaal is a mixed language spoken by youths in South Africa.(Hurst-Harosh & Erastus 2018; Lumisa, 2021) The Syntax of the mixed language will be that of Urhobo while the lexicon will include Urhobo and new Englishes. The mixed language will replace the present code-switched structures that have now become an integral part of the language repertoire in Urhoboland.

Concluding Remarks

Mr. Vice Chancellor, sir, I have tried in this lecture to provide insight into how contact between New Englishes and Urhobo had salubrious and deleterious effects on the Urhobo speech community.  I have illustrated the fact that Nigerian English, Nigerian Pidgin, Nigerian Engilish- Nigerian Pidgin code mixed structures and social media platforms English form a continuum known as new Englishes in Nigeria. Nigerian Pidgin is not a monolithic speech form in Nigeria and it is the pidgin creole form that is spoken in Urhobo land. New Englishes is like a double edged sword in Urhoboland since it has its positive and negative effects on Urhobo speakers. The contact between Nigerian English and Urhobo has raised the socio-economic and political profile of the Urhobo people. This contact has also resulted in the evolution of renowned creative artists in Urhoboland.

On the other hand, this contact has led to the endangerment of the Urhobo language. Although I had categorized Urhobo youths as ‘the miguo (traditional greeting form) generation of Urhobo speakers (Mowarin, 2005), I am confident that with the avalanche of code switching between Urhobo and new Englishes, in addition to the numerousness of websites where Urhobo can be learnt online, Urhobo will not experience linguicide in 2050 as renowned linguists have pessimistically presaged.. However, a mixed language known as UrhoEnglishes would most probably evolve among youths in the urban centres,. So, there will be four speech forms in Urhobo land, and they are Nigerian English and Urhobo, which are two natural languages, and Nigerian Pidgin and UrhoEnglishes, which are two contact languages.


Urhobo speakers have to develop a positive attitude toward their language and culture in order to revitalize Urhobo language and culture.

Symmetrical multilingualism should be embraced by Urhobo speakers, whereby English is used for formal communication while N.P. is used for informal communication for members of different ethnic groups. Urhobo language(s) should be used for intra-ethnic communication at home in order to foster intergenerational transmission of Urhobo languages(s) from parents to children.

At the state and national levels, efforts should be made to maintain Nigerian languages.

African elites and internet-savvy youths should establish online schools for their respective endangered languages so that children and youths can learn these endangered languages online. This measure will revive and revitalize endangered African languages and revise the premonition that ninety percent of African languages will go into extinction within the 21st century.

Nigerian linguists should focus more attention on the study of N.P. due to the numerous advantages of this contact language in Nigeria’s linguistic ecology.

Contributions to National Development

Mr. Vice Chancellor, sir, I have served as an external examiner to some universities in Nigeria and overseas for Masters’ and Ph.D. candidates in English language and Linguistics. The universities are the University of Ibadan, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Oyo State, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma,Edo State, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, Rivers State and Universite Paris Nanterre (University of Paris, France.

I have also served as External Assessor for the promotion of lecturers to the ranks of Associate Professor and Professor at the University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt; Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State; Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma Edo State, and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife Osun state. o

Presently, I am the Managing Editor of Abraka Humanities Review, A Journal in the Faculty of Arts and Ethiope Journal of English, literary and Cultural Studies, a journal in the Department of English and Literary Studies, Delta State University Abraka. The research and publications committee that I chair in the Faculty of Arts has published books for faculty-based courses that had no textbooks. They include: Faculty of Arts Research Methodology course, textbook, Basic French for Arts course textbook, and Introduction to Computer course textbook.

Mr. Vice Chancellor, sir, I have successfully supervised thirty Master’s students and four Ph.D students. Two of my Ph.D. students are senior academics in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

At Delta State University, I have served as Acting Head of the Department of English and Literary Studies. I have also served as a member of the Business Committee of the Senate and as the Vice Chancellor’s representative for the promotion of Junior lecturers in the faculty of the Social Sciences.


I am gratefulto God Almightyfor giving me the opportunity to stand before this congregation to deliver the 105th in the series of inaugural lectures of Delta State University, Abraka. I have looked forward to this auspicious occasion, and I am grateful to God that it has come to pass.

I thank my parents, Late Pa Enakerakpo Mowarin, and my aged mother, Mama Ejekpo Mowarin, for nurturing me and training me through Primary and Secondary school. I cannot forget the love both of you showered on all your children. My late uncle and his late wife, late Professor and late Deaconess J. U. Akpokodje, played a pivotal role in my academic pursuit in life. I remain indebted to them for my ability to rise to the apogee of my academic career as a Professor.

 I also thank my elder sister, Ojiyovwi, and my younger brothers, Ochuko and Okiemute, for their love and encouragement. I also acknowledge my cousins Mr Martins Mowarin, Engnr Victor Mowarin and chief Bright Mowarin. My close friends: Akpos Okoro, Belief Orotoma, Felix Ikikiru, Isaac and Akpobo Ikurusu are highly appreciated.

I also acknowledge my maternal uncles, Mr. Emmanuel Akpokodje, Prof. Godwin Enuvie Akpokodje, and Captain Edward Akpokodje, and my big aunty, Mrs. Elizabeth Olori for the invaluable roles they have played in my life. I also appreciate my cousin, Mr. Ese Joseph Akpokodje.

I wish to thank my lecturers during my undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. I hereby applaud my Master’s dissertation supervisor, Prof. Lekan Oyeleye, and my Ph.D. supervisor, Prof. Ayo Banjo, former Vice-chancellor of the University of Ibadan, for their invaluable roles in my career growth as an academic.

I highly appreciate Prof. Francis Egbokhare of the Department of Linguistics, University of Ibadan, for the collaborative research we have been undertaking in their area of Contact Linguistics with a focus on Nigerian Pidgin. We are presently writing a textbook on Nigerian Pidgin Syntax and I hope that we will complete the writing of the textbook this year.

The Vice Chancellor of Delta State University, Prof. Andy Ogochukwu Egunyenga, is applauded for giving me the opportunity to deliver this inaugural lecture. Your sterling leadership qualifies have positively impacted on students and staff of this great university. Your pursuit for infrastructural development has made it possible for the Faculty of Arts complex to be completed and for the faculty staff members to move to the newly completed faculty complex. The newly completed Faculty of Arts complex is the largest faculty complex in Delta State University. It has also been asserted that Delta State University Faculty of Arts complex is regarded as the largest sub Saharan Africa. Your pursuit of academic excellence at Delta State University has resulted in the visibility of the university with regards to research and publications in high-impact journals.

My special thanks go to Prof. Eric Arubayi, who approved the TETFUND research grant that made it possible to engage in extensive research and fieldwork on language contact among southwest Edoid languages. I also got a conference grant that made it possible for me to present my paper at the University of Cambridge, Great Britain conference on language endangerment. I also appreciate Prof. (Mrs) Mabel Osakwe for her mentoring and pieces of advice when I was a young academic.

I applaud all staff members of faculty of Arts. I also appreciate the former deans of Faculty of Arts, from the tenure of Prof. Osa Egonwa for appointing me as chairman of the faculty’s Research, Seminar and Publications committee. My present Dean, the Faculty of Arts, is also appreciated for retaining me as the chairman of the publication committee in the faculty. He instructed my committee to float a new interdisciplinary journal of Arts, Law, and Social Sciences and the first edition will soon be published. Abraka Humanities Review was the first journal indexed by AJOL at Delta State University when Prof Sunny Awhefeada was the Dean of the faculty. With iconoclastic Prof Edewor’s indomitable spirit, perseverance and administrative sagacity, I am convinced that Abraka Humanities Review will be the first Scopus index journal in Delta State University, Abraka.

My special thanks go to the staff of the Department of English and Literary. We have always been members of one big, cohesive family. I thank my Acting HOD, Dr Richard Maledo, for his astute administrative acumen in seamlessly piloting the affairs of the Department. Prof Sunny Awhefeada, Prof Mrs E. Ojaruega, the university orator, Dr. Emmanuel Emama and all other lecturers in the Department are highly appreciated for the invaluable role they played in ensuring the success of my inaugural lecture.

I also wish to thank my in-laws, the family of the late Mr. Daniel Akatugba, for their support, encouragement, and prayers. I appreciate Mr John Akatugba who is now the head of the family. More importantly, I am also grateful to the Akatugba family for giving me their daughter, Mrs. Margaret Mowarin, in marriage. She has positively impacted my life.

I wish to applaud my children: Engr Ejiro Collins Mowarin, Mrs Eguono Anita Areghan , Engnr Edesiri Michaella Mowarin, Efetobor Michael Mowarin, and our foster daughter Miss Victory Ejeme Iluobe. I also appreciate my grandchildren. Your prayers and encouragement have played an invaluable role in ensuring my rise to the apogee of my academic career.

Finally, I immensely appreciate my lovable, charming and enthralling wife, Mrs Margaret Etarobuko Mowarin. You are my quintessential symbol of symmetrical life partner and the beacon that radiates love, peace and progress to our family. You are the bedrock on which the camaraderie of our family hinged, hinges, and will continue to hinge. You have always kept the home front safe while I live my peripatetic life as an academic who is always away to attend conferences and engage in other academic pursuits.


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Blank NEWS Online founding Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Albert Eruorhe Ograka, is a Graduate of Mass Communication. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).

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