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Creativity and Nativisation of English in Amos Tutuola’s The Palm Wine Drinkard

Creativity and Nativisation of English in Amos Tutuola’s The Palm Wine Drinkard

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The study seeks to explore creativity and nativisation of English in Amos Tutuola’s The Palm Wine Drinkard. Tutuola is among the most outstanding Nigerian writer who have carved a niche for himself through his unique and peculiar styles of writing.

In appreciating his novels therefore, attempt was made in this research to identify and expound the different elements and features of nativisation of English language in the text, and his mother tongue has influences him on the choice of language medium in this novel.

findings is based on a careful study of the English  languages coinage in The Palm Wine Drinkard and the isolation of the features which are not indigenous  to the grammatical rules, conventions and practices of English – the language medium of the text under study.

Emphasis in this research was only placed on linguistic features rather than on literary elements like proverbs, rhetoric, legend, fable, allusion etc. Also, particular attention was given to coined words, phrases and some expressions and how his choice have successfully enhance, or otherwise, the intended meaning of the writer. 



1.1     Background to the Study

English language is one of most widely used and spoken languages in the world today. In every little ray work, English language is used to pass ideas from the author to the reader in a wide coverage.

This is because English Language helps to break the barrier between language communication among people of different ethnic and linguistic groups such as in the case of Nigeria. It is also generally said to be a global language because it has spread to all continents of the world through trade, bilateral relationship colonization and conquest Harrison (2014).

In Nigeria for instance, English is spoken as a second language, it was first introduced to Nigeria during the middle of the 16th century when the British came to Nigeria for purpose of exploration, trade and later colonization. Before English was introduced in Nigeria, Nigerians had their native Languages, which they used to satisfy their linguistic needs.

It is an incontroverable fact that English language has established itself firmly in Nigeria thus, its importance cannot be over emphasized. Apart from being an official language in the country, English language is the string that ties members of different speech communities together in continuing interrelationships.

It is the common instrument that they draw on for socio-cultural identification Igboanusi, (2022). English language is said to be a human specific mode of expressing our thought through the verbal means (i.e. spoken and written) and non verbal means.

With this definition we shall reiterate that English necessarily serves humans in a multitude of ways: English language is said to have a great impact on the cognitive development of man: Man is able to express his thoughts and view.

According to Wallace and Wray (2002), the majority of world English speakers uses English either as a second or third language and exists in an environment where in the least; bilingualism is the norm even though English may be the official language.

In many countries, including Nigeria, English is the main language of instruction in schools (especially after primary education level) and it is used in business and other official transactions and interactions. Its use is not limited unlike some other foreign languages which have their use restricted either to the classroom or diplomatic circles.

Creativity and Nativisation of English in Amos Tutuola’s The Palm Wine Drinkard

In the case of English, it is a language learnt and extensively used in addition to the various mother tongues in Nigeria Ogunsiji, (2004). The dominance of the English language in Nigeria is evident in its superimposition on Nigeria’s numerous indigenous languages Akeredolu-Ale and Alimi (2002) as well as being part and parcel of Nigeria’s political life Joshua (2002).

It is the language of governance and administration at the national level and increasingly becoming the same at the state levels nationwide. The laws of the country are coded and administered in English with occasional translations into some of the indigenous languages.

When we use the internet, then also we encounter English. Whether it be coaching classes online or buying products, English has been prevalent on the internet as it helps us efficiently access the world wide web. Nowadays, one cannot imagine one’s life without the internet, as everything happens on the internet itself.

And we want such a language which is understandable by one and all. That’s where English comes into the foray and allows us to read all the content on various websites. We can book tickets, plan our meetings, do and write all our word documents, presentations etc. and present them at our meetings all through the internet. The internet even gives us a vast amount of career opportunities, which is all possible because of English only Wallace (2017).

 Ekah (2013) opines that English came into Nigeria through colonization centuries ago and three main groups of people emerged from this contact of English with the indigenous languages of Nigeria. These groups are the British, the new Nigerian elite trained in Britain and the native indigenous population trained in Nigeria.

A local variant of English emerged from the mixing of those groups of people. This local variant of English was coloured by influence from local languages. Borrowing of indigenous words into English is a result of this contact and these borrowed words are what we call “loan words”.

Today as English is used in almost every facet of life in Nigeria ranging from education, sport, church, entertainment, law, etc , it still comes in contact with practically all indigenous Nigerian languages and when Nigerians speak English words from their various indigenous languages occur in their speech.

However, Hekel (2010) asserted that nativisation is the domestication of indigenization of a foreign language to reflect the cultural, political, psychological and socioeconomic demands and provisions of linguistic environment where it is found.

In other words, it is the bending of and alien language in order to suit the linguistic situation in order to suit the linguistic demands of the cultural milieu of users.

Nevertheless, according to Adegbija (2004), Nigerian writers who use the English language for literary purpose take cognizance of the facts above. Their variety of English is a pragmatic response to their peculiar situations and environment, without breaking basic rules of syntax and, at the same time, making purists realize that a living language such as English cannot be a closed system.

The assessment of any regional variety of English, such as Nigerian English should, therefore, be endonormative rather than exonormative, bearing in mind local peculiarities, and particularly creative and pragmatic use of the language. It has become an important task of postcolonial writers to form the basis for indigenous culture and they have to be integrated with the culture through their writings.

Language varies because of the wide range of uses to which it is attached, and it is a matter of common experience that we speak and write differently in different situations. It is on this background that this research work seeks to explore creativity and nativisation of English in Amos Tutuola’s The Palm Wine Drinkard

1.2     Statement of the Problem

Over the years, it has been observed that English language has become a major language used by writers of literary works in the array of literary piece, the mind and mode of the writer are all expressed in English and as a result of this, various writers have come up with various creativity in the use and choice of words to express and convey meaning and situations in their literary work to the readers and as a result of this creative use of English language.

Many literary works now become very unique, while some are more ambiguous to be easily understood by readers if the reader does not have a good knowledge and understanding of English language. The creative use of words and formation of most English words by writers have lead to a serious issue in the understanding of literary work of art.

1.3     Objectives of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to examine creativity and nativisation of English in Amos Tutuola The Palm Wine Drunkard, specifically; this research work seeks to also examine:

  1. The author creativity in the use of words to formulate the style that makes the text
  2. Author’s coinage of some words in the text
  3. The style which the author uses to portray and x-ray the ill of the society
  4. To also point out some English words which are coined from Nigeria’s English

1.4     Significance of the Study

The study will help in so many ways thus: it will serve as a source of literature; it will also help to portray the beauty of African writings and will also help to promote Africa to the world

1.5     Research Methodology

This research is based on library research; the primary source of information will be from Amos Tutuola’s The Palm Wine Drinkard. The research shall also source for information from relevant internet materials, journals and other materials from the library which forms the secondary source of the data.

1.6     Scope and Delimitation

The scope of the study shall be limited to critical and textual analysis of Amos Tutuola’s The Palm Wine Drinkard. The scope will not extend to other areas; as a result, the limitations will by no means affect the result of the study.

1.7 Limitation of the Study

This research was limited to Amos Tutuola’s The Palm Wine Drinkard and the nativisation of English words into Nigerian version of Englishes found in the text under study

1.8     Bio-Data of Amos Tutuola

Amos Tutuola’s is famous for his fantastic tales, which were inspired by the follower of his Yoruba ancestors. Unlike many of Nigeria’s early writers, he was not a man of latter’s and his unique style-based purely on a natural talent for struck a chord with readers and particularly with critics abroad.

Amos Tutuola’s was born in Abeokuta, in the current Ogun state. He attended the salvation Army Primary School and the Anglican Central School but his brief Education was cut short when his father died in 1939.

Tutuola’s served as a blacksmith in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War Afterwards he took on a number of jobs, including selling bread and acting as a messenger for the Nigerian Department of Labour. As his work was no challenging, he began to fill his time by writing stories. He had been influenced by the oral traditions of the Yoruba people, which delved into fantasy, magic and myths.

What make Amos Tutola’s stand out from the writers of his day was his use of Pidgin English in his writing. His first book, the palm Wine Drunkard was published to much critical approval from western readers and commentators who were intrigued by his unconventional use of language and the superstitious settings of his mythical tales.

Back home, critics were appalled by what they considered to be a bad reflection of Nigeria and a poor example of Nigerian writing. Tutuola attained international acclaim and popularity and became a co-founder of the Mbari club, a writer’s and publisher’s organization, in 1979, he held a visiting research fellowship at the University of Ifa and in 1983 was an associate of the international writing program at the University of lowa.

1.9  Definition of Terms

Nativisation: Nativisation is the process through which in the virtual absence of native speakers, a language undergoes new phonological, morphological, syntactical, semantic and stylistic changes, and gains new native speakers.

Creativity: Linguistic creativity is primarily the activity of making new meaning by a speaker (in the. broadest sense of the user of language in all forms and in all mediums), and the re- creation and re-interpretation of meaning(s) by a receiver.

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