Pidgin: At the start of the slave trade, the Portuguese arrived at the shores of West Africa but could not communicate.
They desperately needed a form of communication for their business and religious reasons. So they spoke their language anyway and slowly, African slave traders began to pick it up.
During the 17th century, the Nigerian Pidgin English originated as a lingua franca for trade purposes amongst the Nigerians and the Portuguese merchants.
When the British arrived, many people were forced to speak English mixed with Portuguese. This is how the Pidgin word “pikin” was coined from the Portuguese word “Pequeno” which means “small”. And the Portuguese word for “To know” which is “Saber”, was turned into “Sabi”.
After the Europeans left, the Pidgin English did not go with them, but is still most widely spoken in Nigeria today when compared to English.
The use of Nigerian Pidgin English was linked to the non-educated in the past, and perceived with negative attitude by the educated ones.
Today, every Nigerian both young and old can speak the Pidgin English comfortably without any formal education.
The Pidgin English is also increasingly popular amongst the young people of Nigeria.
During the struggle for independence, pidgin became a “language of resistance and anti-colonialism”. Today, 3 to 5 million Nigerians use Pidgin English daily. It is used most times in informal situations, and English used for formal purposes. Pidgin has also been adopted as an official broadcast language.
The Pidgin English is the most acceptable language in Nigeria, because every tribe in Nigeria understands it.
It is not restricted to any region in the country. However, the Nigerian Pidgin English is not yet sufficiently well-developed to fulfill all the duties of a national language. It is also widely used by the diasporic communities in England, Canada and America.