Research Key

The Effects of Pidgin on the Spoken English of Students in Buea: The Case of Form Five and Upper Sixth Students of Government High School, Bokova

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International: $20
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Qualitative research
Analytical tool
Descriptive statistics
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This study is based on the hypothesis that most students use Pidgin to ease communication and understanding which have an effect on the Language they speak and write. It also suggests that in an examination class you must know how to communicate well after five and seven years in secondary and high school respectively.

In the course of this study, it was discovered that Pidgin is more popular than standard English and also Pidgin does not only end in the market and on the streets but has also gone into the institution of learning. Consequently, statistics have shown that would go on for a number of years and it appears there is no remedy to solve the problem.



Background to the Study

Cameroon is a linguistically diverse country with about 280 languages spoken (Anchimbe 2006). Many researchers’ works (see, for instance, Masango 1983; Mbangwara 1987; Bobda 1994; Anchimbe 2006 and Getac 2008) have clearly demonstrated that the English Language in post-colonial multilingual accent continues has been the preferred pronunciation model in the industry in Cameroon. Unlike most Western contexts, Cameroon displays a complex multilingual landscape, besides French and English as the country’s official languages. These, therefore, are approximately 280 indigenous languages. In addition, there is Cameroon Pidgin English or what is currently referred to as Kamtok, a lingua Franca that is spoken by many Cameroonians of all works of life, irrespective of their linguistic background or level of education. According to Kouega 2003 a and b, Pidgin is mostly spoken by the younger generation. The gradual decline of Standard English in Cameroon is due to Pidgin English. Since most Cameroonians see Pidgin as a faster means of communication, especially in the commercial area and in schools, tends to affect the students. Due to constant Pidgin English, Cameroonian tend to speak English wrongly. Cameroon Pidgin is an African language and the English language is the lexifier of Cameroon Pidgin English, but the language has adopted the syntax of an African language as well as prosodic features like tone. The sound system of Cameroon Pidgin English resembles African languages more than English. For example, while diphthongs and triphthongs exist in the English language, they are clearly absent in African languages and Cameroon Pidgin English (see Chambas and Tamanji, 1994; Mutaka & Tamanji 2002; Neba et al.., 2004). The very fact that it has been argued that Pidgin English has a negative influence on learning English (see Alobwede, 1998; Ayafor, 2004), Pidgin in the real sense of the word is a simple makeshift contact language that develops when people of different linguistic backgrounds meet and must interact with one another. A Pidgin in this regard is a marginal language that arises to fulfill certain restricted communication needs among people who have a common language. It cannot and does not satisfy all the linguistic needs of the people using it (Todd, 1990).

The fallen standards of English presuppose that there were once high standards respondents cite the performance of educational institutions between 1945 and 1960 and those between 1960 and 1996. These two periods, they say indicate colonial stability and educational growth after the war, as well as the relative calm and educational expansion after independence. According to the respondents, the standard six pupils (end of primary school) of 19464 otl960 spoke and wrote better English than their 1960 – 1996 counterparts (and even secondary school students). One thing no respondent has stated categorically is whether Pidgin English was spoken less at that time (1945 – 1960) than today.

Pidgin is believed to have started back in the 15th century with the arrival of the Portuguese on the Africa coast. By the 17th century, many other European and African ethnic groups had begun using it in their contacts and transactions with each other and had contributed to its development. By the 19th century the period of its greatest expansion, Pidgin was being used in west Cameroon, much like southern Nigeria and other African coastal areas. As a trade language “a language of contact” Pidgin has borrowed from different quarters through the centuries. Many of the earlier borrowings, from Dutch, German, and Portuguese to name a few, have drifted into disuse, but some still remain for example, from Portuguese are still very current in Pidgin. Pikin – meaning child, dash meaning gift.

Also, African languages, have contributed immensely to the Pidgin vocabulary, for example, “Wahala” means trouble “nayo” means slowly. Although Pidgin vocabulary in the whole is derived from English, many words that have an equivalent meaning in both languages have quite different pronunciations, as a result Cameroonians especially students turned to pronounced standards English word wrongly, thereby using the Pidgin form. The socio-historical situation of Cameroon Pidgin has been the focus in a number of previous linguistic studies in Cameroon see, for instance, Mbass: Mangi 1973; Todd 199; Chumbow and Simo Bodda 1996; Kouega 2001, many Europeans (the Dutch, the Swedes, the Dunes, the Spaniards/ the Germans, the French and British) have lived in Cameroon at different points in time for commercial evangelical, colonial, political and educational reasons. The dominance of Britain in Cameroon by the 18th century (see Chumbow and Simo Bobda 1996; 403) has as a linguistic consequence the gradual replacement of a Portuguese based pidgin with English and Pidgin English. The dominance was short-lived due to the British government’s sluggishness to annex Cameroon. The Germans, therefore, annexed Cameroon in 1884, though they discouraged the use of pidgin through some of their policies, it did not take long for them to discover that this lingua franca was the only way to penetrate the indigenous population.

Statement of the Problem

Pidgin English seems not to end only in the market and on the streets, but it has gene into institutions of learning which have greatly influenced spoken English of the students in the Anglophone zone. As a result, they are unable to distinguish properly between Pidgin English and Standard English. Consequently, at the ordinary level examination students do perform poorly in the English language subject. It is for this reason that this researcher sought to find out how Pidgin English affects the students ’ spoken English.

 Research Question

This study is designed to find out the effect of Pidgin English on spoken English of form five and upper sixth students in G.H.S Bokova. As a result of this, there are questions that need to be asked in order to come out with a good research.

-Does the English spoken by students have aspects of Pidgin?

-What effects does Pidgin English have on the English spoken by the students of G.H.S Bokova.


This research is based on the following hypothesis. Pidgin English has a negative effect on the English language spoken by the students of G.H.S Bokova. Also, the environment of the settlement of the students has an effect on their spoken English.

Aim and Objective of the Study

The objectives of this study are as follows;

1)      To assess or examine the effects of Pidgin English on Standard English, most especially how Pidgin has affected the students’ of examination classes.

2)      To expose some examples to prove that Pidgin affects the English spoken by the students.

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