A Sociostylistic Account of Semantic Creativity in Nigerian English

Esther Robert


This article examines the semantic features of Nigerian English (NE). It is based on and guided by Edgar Schneider’s dynamic model, Weinreich, and the idea of nativization introduced by Braji Kachru. A qualitative method was adopted in the collection and analysis of the data. The data were drawn from wide-ranging sources such as Nigerian literary works, Nigerian newspapers, social interactions and political rallies. The analysis indicates that the variety of English spoken in Nigeria addresses the sociocultural realities of the country, distinguishing this variety from other world English varieties. Semantic analyses revealed aspects such as semantic extension/semantic shift and coinages. The implication of semantic lexicalisation is that an existing word loses its denotative meaning and becomes only meaningful in relation to its context of use. Most coinages in Nigerian English present themselves in different morphological shapes. Some are compound words put together to express the speaker’s concepts. However, such compound words are very descriptive and transitional in nature. Examples of these include: Go-slow, Doctor-do-good, long-legs, legedez-benz and others functioning as slang, metaphors and euphemisms.


Keywords: Nigerian English, semantic extension/shift, coinages, lexicalisation

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 [ISSN 0856-9965 (Print)]