Volume 26, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1384-6655
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9811
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper examines five bilingual pragmatic markers: , , , , and , loaned from indigenous Nigerian languages into Nigerian English, with a view to investigating their sources, meanings, frequencies, spelling stability, positions, collocational patterns and discourse-pragmatic functions. The data for the study were obtained from the International Corpus of English-Nigeria and the Nigerian component of the Global Web-based English corpus. These were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively, using the theory of pragmatic borrowing. The results show that , , and are borrowed from Yoruba, is loaned from Arabic through Hausa and Yoruba while is borrowed from Hausa. serves as an attention marker, and function as emphasis markers, serves as an emphatic manner of speaking marker while functions as an attention marker and agreement-seeking marker. The study highlights the influence of indigenous Nigerian languages on the discourse-pragmatic features of Nigerian English.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Adedun, E., & Shodipe, M.
    (2011) Yoruba-English bilingualism in central Lagos – Nigeria. Journal of African Cultural Studies, 23, 121–132. 10.1080/13696815.2011.637882
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13696815.2011.637882 [Google Scholar]
  2. Adegbite, A., Udofot, I., & Ayoola, K.
    (2014) A Dictionary of Nigerian English. Obafemi Awolowo University.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Adetunji, A.
    (2013) The interactional context of humor in Nigerian stand-up comedy. Pragmatics, 23(1), 1–22. 10.1075/prag.23.1.01ade
    https://doi.org/10.1075/prag.23.1.01ade [Google Scholar]
  4. Aijmer, K.
    (2002) English Discourse Particles: Evidence from a Corpus. John Benjamins. 10.1075/scl.10
    https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.10 [Google Scholar]
  5. (2013) Understanding Pragmatic Markers: A Variational Pragmatic Approach. Edinburgh University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Aijmer, K., & Simon-Vandenbergen, A.-M.
    (2011) Pragmatic markers. InJ. Zienkwoski, J.-O. Östman, & J. Verschueren (Eds.), Discursive Pragmatics (pp.223–247). John Benjamins. 10.1075/hoph.8.13aij
    https://doi.org/10.1075/hoph.8.13aij [Google Scholar]
  7. Akinlotan, M., & Akande, A.
    (2020) Dative alternation in Nigerian English: A corpus-based approach. Glottotheory, 10(1–2), 103–125. 10.1515/glot‑2019‑0005
    https://doi.org/10.1515/glot-2019-0005 [Google Scholar]
  8. Akinola, A., & Oladipupo, R.
    (2021) Word stress free variation in Nigerian English: A corpus-based study. English Today. Advance online publication. doi:  10.1017/S026607842100002X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S026607842100002X [Google Scholar]
  9. Amuzu, E. K., Kuwornu, A. A., & Opoku-Fofie, S.
    (2018) “Awww, we r sorry wai”: Pragmatic functions of L1 discourse markers in Ghanaians’ English-Based WhatsApp conversations. Contemporary Journal of African Studies, 5(2), 60–86. 10.4314/contjas.v5i2.3
    https://doi.org/10.4314/contjas.v5i2.3 [Google Scholar]
  10. Anchimbe, E., & Janney, R. W.
    (2011) Postcolonial pragmatics: An introduction. Journal of Pragmatics, 43, 1451–1459. 10.1016/j.pragma.2010.10.027
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2010.10.027 [Google Scholar]
  11. Andersen, G.
    (2014) Pragmatic borrowing. Journal of Pragmatics, 67, 17–33. 10.1016/j.pragma.2014.03.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2014.03.005 [Google Scholar]
  12. Anthony, L.
    (2015) AntConc (Version 3.4.4) [Computer software]. Waseda University. www.laurenceanthony.net/
  13. Ayeni, T.
    (2020, April3). Religion in Nigeria despite coronavirus measures. The Africa Report. https://www.theafricareport.com/25532/religion-in-nigeria-despite-coronavirus-measures/
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Babalola, E., & Taiwo, R.
    (2009) Code-switching in contemporary Nigerian hip-hop music. Itupale: Online Journal of African Studies, 1, 1–26.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Balteiro, I.
    (2018) Oh wait: English pragmatic markers in Spanish football chatspeak. Journal of Pragmatics, 133, 123–133. 10.1016/j.pragma.2018.03.011
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2018.03.011 [Google Scholar]
  16. Bamiro, E.
    (2006) The politics of code-switching: English vs. Nigerian languages. World Englishes, 25(1), 23–35. 10.1111/j.0083‑2919.2006.00445.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0083-2919.2006.00445.x [Google Scholar]
  17. Banjo, A.
    (1993) An endonormative model for the teaching of the English language in Nigeria. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 3(2), 261–275. 10.1111/j.1473‑4192.1993.tb00050.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1473-4192.1993.tb00050.x [Google Scholar]
  18. Blakemore, D.
    (2002) Relevance and Linguistic Meaning: The Semantics and Pragmatics of Discourse Markers. Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511486456
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511486456 [Google Scholar]
  19. Brinton, L.
    (1996) Pragmatic Markers in English: Grammaticalization and Discourse Functions. Walter de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110907582
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110907582 [Google Scholar]
  20. (2008) The Comment Clause in English: Syntactic Origins and Pragmatic Development. Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511551789
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511551789 [Google Scholar]
  21. Buysse, L.
    (2012) So as a multifunctional discourse marker in native and learner speech. Journal of Pragmatics, 44, 1764–1782. 10.1016/j.pragma.2012.08.012
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2012.08.012 [Google Scholar]
  22. Crystal, D.
    (2008) A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. Blackwell. 10.1002/9781444302776
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444302776 [Google Scholar]
  23. Davies, M., & Fuchs, R.
    (2015) Expanding horizons in the study of World Englishes with the 1.9 billion word Global Web-based English Corpus (GloWbE). English World-Wide, 36, 1–28. 10.1075/eww.36.1.01dav
    https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.36.1.01dav [Google Scholar]
  24. Eberhard, D. M., Simons, G. F., & Fennig, C. D.
    (Eds.) (2019) Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Twenty-second edition. SIL International. www.ethnologue.com
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Faleye, O., & Adegoju, A.
    (2012) A sociolinguistic study of deviant orthographic representation of graduating students’ names in a Nigerian University. Linguistik Online, 53, 11–22.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Fraser, B.
    (1996) Pragmatic markers. Pragmatics, 6, 167–190. 10.1075/prag.6.2.03fra
    https://doi.org/10.1075/prag.6.2.03fra [Google Scholar]
  27. (2009a) An account of discourse markers. International Review of Pragmatics, 1(2), 293–320. 10.1163/187730909X12538045489818
    https://doi.org/10.1163/187730909X12538045489818 [Google Scholar]
  28. (2009b) Topic orientation markers. Journal of Pragmatics, 41, 892–898. 10.1016/j.pragma.2008.08.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2008.08.006 [Google Scholar]
  29. Fuchs, R.
    (2012) Focus marking and semantic transfer in Indian English: The case of also. English World-Wide, 33(1), 27–53. 10.1075/eww.33.1.02fuc
    https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.33.1.02fuc [Google Scholar]
  30. Fuchs, R., Gut, U., & Soneye, T.
    (2013) ‘We just don’t even know’: the usage of the pragmatic focus particles even and still in Nigerian English. English World-Wide, 34 (2), 123–145. 10.1075/eww.34.2.01fuc
    https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.34.2.01fuc [Google Scholar]
  31. Greenbaum, S.
    (1991) ICE: The International Corpus of English. English Today, 7, 3–7. 10.1017/S0266078400005836
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0266078400005836 [Google Scholar]
  32. Gut, U.
    (2017) English in West Africa. InM. Filppula, J. Klemola, & D. Sharma (Eds), The Oxford Handbook of World Englishes (pp.491–507). Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Gut, U., & Unuabonah, F. O.
    (2019) The use of stance markers in West African Englishes. InA. U. Esimaje, U. Gut, & B. E. Antia (Eds), Corpus Linguistics and African Englishes (pp.206–229). John Benjamins. 10.1075/scl.88.10gut
    https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.88.10gut [Google Scholar]
  34. Isingoma, B.
    (2016) Lexical borrowings and calques in Ugandan English. InC. Meierkord, B. Isingoma, & S. Namyalo (Eds.), Ugandan English: Its Sociolinguistics, Structure and Uses in a Globalising Post-Protectorate (pp.149–172). John Benjamins. 10.1075/veaw.g59.07isi
    https://doi.org/10.1075/veaw.g59.07isi [Google Scholar]
  35. Jibril, M.
    (1982) Phonological Variation in Nigerian English [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of Lancaster.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. (1986) Sociolinguistic variation in Nigerian English. English World-Wide, 7, 147–174. 10.1075/eww.7.1.04jib
    https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.7.1.04jib [Google Scholar]
  37. Jowitt, D.
    (1991) Nigerian English Usage: An Introduction. Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. (2019) Nigerian English. Mouton de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Lange, C.
    (2009) ‘Where’s the party yaar!’ Discourse particles in Indian English. InT. Hoffmann & L. Siebers (Eds.), World Englishes – Problems, Properties and Prospects (pp.207–226). John Benjamins. 10.1075/veaw.g40.14lan
    https://doi.org/10.1075/veaw.g40.14lan [Google Scholar]
  40. Leimgruber, J. R. E.
    (2016) Bah in Singapore English. World Englishes, 35, 78–97. 10.1111/weng.12175
    https://doi.org/10.1111/weng.12175 [Google Scholar]
  41. Lenk, U.
    (1998) Discourse markers and global coherence in conversations. Journal of Pragmatics, 19, 435–453. 10.1016/S0378‑2166(98)00027‑7
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(98)00027-7 [Google Scholar]
  42. Loureiro-Porto, L.
    (2017) ICE vs GloWbE: Big data and corpus compilation. World Englishes, 36(3), 448–470. 10.1111/weng.12281
    https://doi.org/10.1111/weng.12281 [Google Scholar]
  43. Matras, Y.
    (2000) Fusion and the cognitive basis for bilingual discourse markers. International Journal of Bilingualism, 4, 505–528. 10.1177/13670069000040040701
    https://doi.org/10.1177/13670069000040040701 [Google Scholar]
  44. (2009) Language Contact. Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511809873
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511809873 [Google Scholar]
  45. Mughazy, M. A.
    (2003) Discourse particles revisited: The case of wallahi in Egyptian Arabic. InD. B. Parkinson & S. Farwaneh (Eds.), Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics: Papers from the Annual Symposium on Arabic Linguistics (pp.3–17). John Benjamins. 10.1075/cilt.247.04mug
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.247.04mug [Google Scholar]
  46. Mukherjee, J.
    (2015) Response to Davies and Fuchs. English World-Wide, 36, 34–37. 10.1075/eww.36.1.02muk
    https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.36.1.02muk [Google Scholar]
  47. National Bureau of Statistics
    National Bureau of Statistics (2017) Demographic Statistics Bulletin. National Bureau of Statistics. https://www.nigerianstat.gov.ng/
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Naya, B. M.
    (2006) Adjunct, modifier, discourse marker: On the various functions of right in the history of English. Folia Linguistica Historica, 27, 141–195. 10.1515/flih.2006.27.1‑2.141
    https://doi.org/10.1515/flih.2006.27.1-2.141 [Google Scholar]
  49. Nelson, G.
    (2015) Response to Davies and Fuchs. English World-Wide, 36(1), 38–40. 10.1075/eww.36.1.02nel
    https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.36.1.02nel [Google Scholar]
  50. Nigerian Universities Commission
    Nigerian Universities Commission (2019) Nigerian Universities. Nigerian Universities Commission. nuc.edu.ng/
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Ogoanah, F.
    (2011) The pragmatic roles of as in in Nigerian English usage. World Englishes, 30(2), 200–210. 10.1111/j.1467‑971X.2011.01706.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-971X.2011.01706.x [Google Scholar]
  52. Oladipupo, R. O., & Unuabonah, F. O.
    (2020) Extended discourse-pragmatic usage of now in Nigerian English. World Englishes. Advance online publication. doi:  10.1111/weng.12492
    https://doi.org/10.1111/weng.12492 [Google Scholar]
  53. Onabamiro, T., & Oladipupo, R.
    (2019) Forms and patterns of epenthesis of New English native speakers in Nigeria [Paper presentation]. Conference of the English Scholars’ Association of Nigeria, Abuja, Nigeria.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Othman, Z.
    (2010) The use of okay, right and yeah in academic lectures by native speaker lecturers: Their ‘anticipated’ and ‘real’ meanings. Discourse Studies, 12, 665–681. 10.1177/1461445610376365
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445610376365 [Google Scholar]
  55. Redeker, G.
    (1991) Review article: Linguistic markers of discourse structure. Linguistics, 29, 1139–1172.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Rühlemann, C., & Aijmer, K.
    (2015) Corpus pragmatics: Laying the foundations. InK. Aijmer & C. Rühlemann (Eds.), Corpus Pragmatics: A Handbook (pp.1–28). Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139057493.001
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139057493.001 [Google Scholar]
  57. Taiwo, R.
    (2009) The functions of English in Nigeria from the earliest times to the present day. English Today, 25, 3–10. 10.1017/S0266078409000121
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0266078409000121 [Google Scholar]
  58. Tan, A.
    (2010) Right in Singapore English. World Englishes, 29, 234–256. 10.1111/j.1467‑971X.2010.01640.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-971X.2010.01640.x [Google Scholar]
  59. Tay, L. C., Mei, Y. C., Ngee, T. Y., & Bee, E. W.
    (2016) Discourse particles in Malaysian English: What do they mean?Bijdragen tot Taal-, Land-Volkenkunde, 172, 479–509. 10.1163/22134379‑17204002
    https://doi.org/10.1163/22134379-17204002 [Google Scholar]
  60. Traugott, E. C.
    (2010) (Inter)subjectivity and (inter)subjectification: A reassessment. InK. Davidse, L. Vandelanotte & H. Cuyckens (Eds.), Subjectification, Intersubjectification and Grammaticalization (pp.29–75). de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110226102.1.29
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110226102.1.29 [Google Scholar]
  61. (2016) On the rise of types of clause-final pragmatic markers in English. Journal of Historical Pragmatics, 17(1), 26–54. 10.1075/jhp.17.1.02tra
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jhp.17.1.02tra [Google Scholar]
  62. Udofot, I.
    (2003) Stress and rhythm in the Nigerian Accent of English. English World-Wide, 24, 201–220. 10.1075/eww.24.2.04udo
    https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.24.2.04udo [Google Scholar]
  63. Unuabonah, F. O.
    (2020) “So you know ehn … ” The use of bilingual interjections in Nigerian English. Intercultural Pragmatics, 17(2), 151–176. 10.1515/ip‑2020‑0008
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2020-0008 [Google Scholar]
  64. Unuabonah, F. O., & Gut, U.
    (2018) Commentary pragmatic markers in Nigerian English. English World-Wide, 39, 193–213. 10.1075/eww.00010.unu
    https://doi.org/10.1075/eww.00010.unu [Google Scholar]
  65. Unuabonah, F. O., & Oladipupo, R. O.
    (2018) “You’re not staying in Island sha o”: O, sha and abi as pragmatic markers in Nigerian English. Journal of Pragmatics, 135, 8–23. 10.1016/j.pragma.2018.07.007
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2018.07.007 [Google Scholar]
  66. (2020) Bilingual pragmatic markers in Nigerian English. World Englishes. Advance online publication. doi:  10.1111/weng.12453
    https://doi.org/10.1111/weng.12453 [Google Scholar]
  67. Unuabonah, F. O., Oyebola, F., & Gut, U.
    (2021) “Abeg na! we write so our comments can be posted!”: Borrowed Nigerian Pidgin pragmatic markers in Nigerian English. Pragmatics. Advance online publication. doi:  10.1075/prag.19038.unu
    https://doi.org/10.1075/prag.19038.unu [Google Scholar]
  68. Wolf, H., & Igboanusi, H.
    (2003) A preliminary comparison of some lexical items in Nigerian English and Cameroon English. InP. Lucko, P. Lothar, & H. Wolf (Eds.), Studies in African Varieties of English (pp.69–81). Peter Lang.
    [Google Scholar]
  69. Wolf, H., & Polzenhagen, F.
    (2009) World Englishes: A Cognitive Sociolinguistic Approach. De Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110199222
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110199222 [Google Scholar]
  70. Wunder, E., Voorman, H., & Gut, U.
    (2010) The ICE Nigeria corpus project: Creating an open, rich and accurate corpus. ICAME Journal, 34, 78–88.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error