Bilingualism and Linguistic Influence in Nigeria: Examples from the Works of Achebe and Emecheta

  •  Uriel Okunrinmeta    


The present study explores the mutual influence that English and the Nigerian languages have on each other and demonstrates how Nigerian literary writers have succeeded in effectively capturing this in their works. The study, after analyzing Achebe’s No Longer at Ease and Anthills of the Savannah, and Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood with reference to borrowing, code-mixing and code-switching, coinages, semantic changes and peculiar Nigerian structures/expressions, reveals that the languages mutually influence each other since they exist side by side in the lives and tongues of Nigerians. The study also reveals that such Nigerian expressions as “lifu”, “bubas”, “eat bribe”, “been-to”, “not on seat”, “bottom power”, “owner’s corner”, “August break”, “son of the soil”, “after-bride palmwine”, “chief wife”, “aso-ebi cloth” and “you may laugh if laughter catches you”, among several others,  are manifestations of this mutual influence in the speech and writing of Nigerians. Their occurrence in the works of Achebe and Emecheta, therefore, indicates that they, as literary writers, are conversant with happenings in the Nigerian linguistic scene. Thus, the study shows that Nigerians are creative in the use of language since they are able to tap their bilingual experiences to adapt the languages at their disposal to suit the numerous conveniences, experiences, nuances and sensibilities in the Nigerian environment. The study also shows that this mutual influence, which has resulted in several peculiar Nigerian usages, has contributed immensely to the effective reflection and expression of the Nigerian experience and should, therefore, be seen as a good sign of healthy co-existence between English and the Nigerian languages in Nigeria’s multilingual setting.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1923-869X
  • ISSN(Online): 1923-8703
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: bimonthly

Journal Metrics

h-index (February 2018): 20

i10-index (February 2018): 58

h5-index (February 2018): 15

h5-median (February 2018): 22

Learn more