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PROJECT TOPIC: SEMANTIC STUDY OF SOME LEXICAL ITEMS IN NIGERIAN ENGLISH

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CHAPTER ONE

1.0    INTRODUCTION

1.1     BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The global spread of the English language led to the position that is now true: that there is no copyright in the use of English since the language no longer belongs numerically to speakers of English as a mother tongue. The effective ownership of any language in effect rests with the people who use it. However multilingual they are, the major advances in sociolinguistic research over the past half century indicate clearly that languages are shaped by their use. And for English, the users number up to seven hundred million, living in every continent of which less than half are native speakers. Statistically, native speakers are in a minority, and thus in practice for language change, for language maintenance, and for the ideologies and beliefs associated with the language in so far as non-native speakers use the language for a wide range of public and personal needs (Brumfit 2001:116).

This extract highlights the historically unique position of English in the world, the fact that non-native users of English now outnumber native speakers and the argument that the power to adapt and change the language rests with the people who use it. It reminds us that English is used by both plurilingual and monolingual people alike. We should no longer think that English is still ‘based on a single metropolitan culture, nor is it any longer felt to carry with it implications of political dominion. Evidence of this worldwide phenomenon of language contact, variation and change can be seen through such designations as World Englishes, Modern Englishes, New Englishes, to mention just a few (Jenkins 2003:117).


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