Sociolinguistic Innovations in Nigerian English Usage in the Covid-19 Era

Chidimma U. Inyima, Onyebuchi Nwosu, Immaculate N. Dona-Ezenn


The novel coronavirus (SAR-COV-2) and its attendant respiratory disease, COVID-19, said to have originated in Wuhan, China in December, 2019 has become a global concern with far-reaching impact on all facets of human life. Its impact on the English language can be seen in the emergence of new forms of expressions, extension of the meaning of existing words and the resuscitation of hitherto not commonly used expressions. A number of these innovations and usages affect the English language generally, yet language use is contextbound revealing the cultural realities of its users and their environment so that language at all times exhaustively catalogues the things, events and processes in its environment of use (Carrol, 1966:102). This study adopts the Functionalist Approach to investigate the linguistic impact of COVID-19 discourse on the Nigerian variety of the English language using data from Nairaland, an online Nigerian forum. It establishes that COVID-19 pandemic has influenced the character of Nigerian English by way of morphemic coinages, phrasal restructuring, syntactic composition, semantic broadening, lexical resuscitation and acronymic coinages.

Keywords: COVID-19, language resuscitation, Functionalist Approach, Nigerian English

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 [ISSN 0856-9965 (Print)]