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    JANUARY, 2010

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    I, Professor S. M. Onuigbo, of the Department of English and Literary Studies,

    University of Nigeria, Nsukka, do approve this project as having fulfilled the requirement

    for the award of the Master of Arts in English and Literary Studies of the University of

    Nigeria, Nsukka.



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    This is to certify that this project is an independent study carried out by Udoh, Victoria

    Chinwe with the registration number, PG/ MA/ 2000/ 27938 of the Department of

    English and Literary Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and that this work has not

    been presented in part or full for the award of any diploma or degree in this or any other


    -------------------- ----------------------------

    Supervisor Head of Department

    -------------------------------------- -------------------------------------

    Dean, Faculty of Arts External Examiner

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    My husband, Udoh Chukwuma

    (You are a great man).

    My parents, Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Ofoegbu

    (Your efforts are highly appreciated).

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    I am highly indebted to my beloved husband, Mr. Chukwuma Udoh, who all these

    while carried the burden of seeing me through this programme. Indeed I owe you a lot.

    I must, most humbly acknowledge the stimulating encouragements of my parents.

    You people are great. I will forever be grateful for all you have done for me.

    May I pay a tribute to you, my children: Ifechukwu, Chidera, Necherem, Bmdom,

    Simdi and Somtoo. You people are the source of my pride, I love you all.

    Also may I extol my superior Prof. Sam Onuigbo, for his invaluable patience and

    continued encouragement. May the good Lord reward you abundantly.

    I am also particularly grateful to Mr. Nwoma, Romnus. Indeed your type is rare, I

    owe you a debt of gratitude.

    I also acknowledge the moral and financial support of my brothers and sisters:

    Charles, Chike, Ngozi and Ifeyinwa, you people are great.

    For other forms of assistance, I express my indebtedness to Dr. Ngozi Onwuka,

    Chinelo Ezekulie, Ify Obi, Melda, Chibuzor Onukwo, I count on each of you.

    Finally, I give thanks to the almighty God for his abundant mercies.

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    1.1 1.2 Background to the Study.. 1 1.3 Objective of the Study.. 6 1.4 Statement of the Problem.. 9 1.5 Relevance of the Study. 10 1.6 Scope of the Study 11


    2.1 Language and Communication.. 12

    2.2 Varieties of the English Language. 15

    2.3 The Nigeria Police Force as a Speech Community 23

    2.4 Error Analysis. 25

    2.5 Level of Education.. 28


    3.1 Area of Study. 30

    3.2 Theoretical Framework.. 30

    3.3 Method of Observation.. 31

    3.4 Instrumentation.. 32

    3.5 Method of Data Analysis... 32


    4.1 Phonological Analysis.. 33

    4.2 Error of Substitution. 34

    4.3 Error of Omission. 36

    4.4 Error of Addition.. 37

    4.5 Syntactic Errors 38

    CHAPTER FIVE: Conclusion... 46

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    In the present day Nigeria, the quality of the English language spoken by Nigerians is

    perceived to have been deteriorating and needs urgent attention. The proliferation of

    books and articles in the recent years can be seen as the native outcrop of its received

    attention and the recognition as a matter of discourse. Evidently, every profession,

    occupation or trade has its own variety of language for effective communication. In view

    of this, the Nigeria Police Force, Onitsha, a law enforcement agency under the Federal

    Republic of Nigeria adopts the English language as its official language and in addition to

    the English language also has other languages in use. Although the members of the

    Nigeria Police use the English language, the degree of their proficiency is dependent on

    the level of education of each police officer. This is to say that different varieties of the

    English language are used within this community. The thrust of this research work is to

    highlight the linguistic features of the language of the Nigeria Police Force as used in the

    police journals and their everyday interactions. It tries to evaluate their use of the English

    language: how efficiently it has been used. This evaluation would be based on the

    phonological and syntactic analyses. In the light of the analyses conclusions were made

    on the linguistic features of the Nigeria Police Force, Onitsha. Also this community

    would be looked at as a speech community because it has its own language apart from the

    English language which is intelligible to its members. The errors committed would be

    evaluated through the use of the concept of error analyses. Finally, this would be

    followed by the conclusion and recommendation.

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    Human beings use language as a means of communication and communication

    becomes meaningful and effective especially when it comes from the same speech

    community. In fact, language is very significant because it is a tool for identifying

    people, their origin, culture or even social statues.

    Gimson (1970) defines it as a system of conventional signs used for

    communication by a whole community. As a medium of communication, language does

    not exist in a vacuum, but operates in a context of situation. These contexts determine the

    variation of language.

    Language is very crucial for human survival because it is the most important and

    most effective instrument for communication. It is the bond that holds societies together.

    Consequently, a society must afford shared cognitive experiences and

    orientations, hence Aberle et al in Morrish (1980) emphasizes the need for a society to

    develop a corpus of cognitive orientation which will provide meaningfulness to social

    situation as well as a sense of stability derived from identity of experiences.On the other

    hand, for motivation to be sustained in individual and group activity, a society must

    provide a means of communication for its members. One of the essential elements of

    living in a society or in a community with others is the means of communication, and this

    can be achieved through language. One can invariably say that language is the principal

    means of communication. The primacy of language cuts across every sphere of life: law

    enforcement, technology, science, politics, religion as well as other interpersonal spheres.

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    The police use language as every other field does in the performance of their

    activities which includes enforcement of law and order, prevention and detection of

    crime, protection of life and property and, other numerous activities.

    This work is a linguistic inquiry into the language of the Nigeria Police Force,

    Onitsha, in Anambra State. The Nigeria Police Force, Onitsha, is just like every other

    Police Force in Nigeria. What is obtainable amongst the Police Force in Onitsha is also

    obtainable in the whole of the Nigeria Police Force. The Nigeria Police Force, Onitsha,

    has its main station which is referred to as the Central Police Station (CPS) in the heart of

    the town with many other police posts in many parts of the town. Because of the multi-

    lingual nature of the country, members of the Police Force are drawn from different

    ethnic groups and all these people use the English language as their official language for

    mutual intelligibility.

    This study investigates linguistic features of the English language of the Nigeria

    Police Force. It examines their use of the English language. The English language is

    observed to play the role of official language in many countries of the world, and in

    Africa, it is the second language of most countries including Nigeria. It is the language of

    law, education, law enforcement and politics. It is the dominant medium of interaction in

    different professions. The language of the Police Force studied in this work is the

    Standard English as used by the Nigeria Police Force. This study will also discuss in the

    brief the use of jargon by the Nigeria Police Force.

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    This study being a linguistic inquiry into the language of the Nigeria Police Force, aims


    1. describing the language situation in the Nigeria Police Force, Onitsha.

    2. the variety of the English language found in this community.

    3. the context in which they used, with whom and for what purpose.

    4. the syntactic and phonological structure of the English language used in the


    The Nigeria Police Force, a Federal law enforcement agency, is found all over

    Anambra State, with quarters and barracks in different parts of the State.

    Nigeria is a multi-lingual nation with police officers drawn from different ethnic

    groups and languages. The languages spoken in the Nigeria Police Force, Onitsha,

    comprises Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Ibibio, Efik, Kalabari, Izon, Pidgin and several other

    Nigerian languages.

    The official language used for the spoken and written activities is the English

    language. The English language is used for parades and drills, for lectures and seminars,

    for court records and for most discussions between the officers and members of the

    public. The Nigeria Police Force in the performance of her social functions of law

    enforcement employs language as a medium of interaction, preservation and

    dissemination of information. Communication of message both within and outside the

    Police circle is done in English. The diatypic variety of the language of law enforcement

    can be seen in the various activities and entries by the Police like reports, minutes,

    statements, parades, drills, and so forth.

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    Going further, since this study is a linguistic investigation into the language of the

    Nigeria Police Force, it tries to evaluate the use of the English language in this speech

    community; how efficiently it has been used. This evaluation will be based on the levels

    of linguistic analyses and these are phonology and syntax.

    Also the Nigeria Police Force in their use of the English language produces

    varieties. They are supposed to be using the Standard English that is the Received

    Pronunciation standard but this is not so. Their proficiency largely depends on the level

    of education of the individual officers. The English language in Nigeria has many

    varieties. This is as a result of the contact between the English language and the local

    Nigerian languages and because the English language is used within the local setting,

    with local ideas and local attitude to life. Another reason is that the English language is a

    second language.

    According to Saville-Troike (1982) The range of varieties used for auxiliary

    national purposes even within a single country such as Nigeria runs from pidgin English

    on one extreme, through regionally marked varieties ( Hausa English, Yoruba English,

    Igbo English) to educate Nigerian English and finally to varieties which very closely

    approximate British or American norms.

    These varieties abound in the Nigeria Police Force, Onitsha. Their use of the

    English language will be analyzed in the chapter four of this study. Also chapter two, this

    perspective on varieties would be discussed elaborately.

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    It is pertinent to note that a lot of work has been done on language and other

    professions, but not much has been done with respect to the language of the police force.

    Therefore this study sets to: identify the varieties of the English language used by the

    Nigeria Police Force; determine the problem in the linguistic features of the English

    language of Nigeria Police Force; find out the causes of these problems; and finally,

    suggest how these problems can be solved to enhance the effective use of the English

    language by the Nigeria Police Force.


    This study is designed to provide an insight into the unique use of the English

    language by the Nigeria Police Force and to bring out the influences on the choices and

    uses of the language. Ijomah (1973) states that the vocabulary of language reflects the

    physical and social environment of the people.

    This study also points out the importance of language as well as its flexibility in

    the context such as the one under study.

    This research will help Nigerians to appreciate language of the Nigerian Police

    Force and this will, no doubt, enhance the relationship between the Nigeria Police and the


    It will also help the government in reshaping the Nigeria Police Force with regard

    to the issue of qualification. The government, through this study will also put into

    consideration organizing workshops and seminars for members of the Police Force to

    help them improve on their use of the language.

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    This study will cover the Nigeria Police Force, Onitsha. In Onitsha, there is a

    main police station referred to as the Central Police Station (C.P.S.) and many other

    police posts situated at different parts of the town.

    For the purpose of this study, two police posts and the main police station, that is,

    the Central Police Station ( CPS) which is the headquarters will be used.

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    We will speak and use language but seldom do we pause to think about language.

    According to Naldman and Brooks as quoted in Azikiwe (1998), language is a

    learned systematic symbolic vocal behaviour, which is culturally acquired as an exclusive

    mark of man, by means of which a social group co-operates. Language permeates all

    parts of society and does more than simply describe reality.

    Ifensor (1996) defines language as a system of arbitrary vocal symbol by means

    of which people within a social group interact.

    Language provides society with a means of socializing its members and a

    mechanism for role taking.

    Mead in Morrish (1980) stresses the importance of language in the understanding

    and taking the role of others. In the development of the self it is essential to have a mental

    grasp of the consciousness or those around us. Meads postulates that:

    Language in its significant sense is that vocal gesture which tends to

    arouse in the individual the attitude which it arouses in others, and it is this

    perfecting of self by gestures which mediates the social activities, that

    gives rise to the possession of taking the roles of others.

    Language is used in all human spheres of life, politics, government, trading, mass media,

    education and science. The function of language is inexhaustible. It helps to preserve the

    culture and history of a community. It is the vehicle used to preserve the culture and

    history of a community. It is the vehicle used to impact knowledge and information to

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    express our feelings, emotions and thoughts. It enbables one to conduct oneself socially

    and may even influence the behaviour of people. Chomsky sees language as the mirrow

    of mind. He perceives language as an essential tool through which human beings are


    It has been stated that language and communication are interdependent. They are

    like siamese twins. One cannot be divorced from the other. Communication is a process

    of interaction between persons, group or states. Okonkwo (1980) defines communication

    as a process in which people share information, ideas, and feelings. It is a process

    whereby information is transmitted from the sender to the receiver through the use of

    common symbols. These common symbols can be represented aurally or


    Communication relies so much on the language for effectiveness and the language

    is the vehicle for communication. Language is a common tool with which human beings

    communicate in both formal and informal situations. Language signifies a human system

    of communication used in speech and writing involving vocabulary and sentence


    Adetugbo (1980) categorically states that communication is the only tool for

    interaction between two or more people. Language, be it oral, literal or symbolic is the

    only means of communication. All human societies and institution are made possible

    only by means of possession of language.

    Language is said to be a human characteristic which exists in both spoken and

    written forms and both are of great importance to this study.

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    The Nigeria Police Force uses language as every other field does in the

    performance of the variety of activities which includes prevention and detection of

    crimes, parades and drills and numerous and other activities. All these activities function

    both in spoken and written language. Gimson (1970) states that:

    Other aspects of language which would require investigation includes the

    variations of the same language in the different regions and social classes

    (dialectology) the influence of context and style upon the form and

    substance of the language; the behaviour of human beings in their

    production and perception of language (psycholinguistics) in which it is

    spoken (social-linguistic).

    This will be discussed more elaborately in the next section. This study focuses on

    the use of the English language of the Nigerian Police Force. The research also delineates

    the influences on the language as used by the Nigeria Police Force in order to justify that

    this is a Nigeria variety of the English language.


    The English language is Nigerias official language and serves as the second

    language to most of its Nigerian users. As a second language, its acquisition makes

    Nigerian users of the language either bilingual or multi-lingual. As the official language,

    the English language has come to be seen as probably the most important language

    because it is the language of government, business, commerce, banking, mass media and

    most of inter-ethnic communication.

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    In all these, the major function of language is personal and social, but directive,

    referential and imaginative functions are performed in varying degrees by the use of the

    English language in Nigeria. Brosnaham in Banjo (1986) states:

    English is the language of commerce and law, politics and administration,

    of education and culture at all level above the local. And adequate

    knowledge of English is an indispensable requirement for anyone to use

    above or live in any wider context than the village.

    The English language is a second language to most of its Nigerian users. As a

    result of this, the users are either bilinguals or multi-lingual.

    A variety of the language according to Jowitt (1991) is one of many general and

    complete language system, each possessing characteristics that distinguish it from other

    systems without requiring it to be classified as a different language. These varieties arise

    from the fact that a Nigerian transfers the English language the tonal habits of his first


    The second parameter is the education parameter. He posits that the type of

    English spoken and written by Nigerians varies according to the level of general

    education attained. According to him, there is a correlation between level of education

    attainment and level of proficiency in the English language.

    Linguistics is the third parameter used to distinguish varieties of the English

    language. Here groups of linguistic features are distinguished according to the degree of

    deviation which they manifest from exoglossic standard. Linguists have been theorizing

    on these issues which Brosnahan as quoted in Banjo identifies as four levels of the

    Nigerian variety of the English language.

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    Level I: Pidgin; spoken by those without any formal education.

    Level II: Spoken by those who have had primary school education. Most speakers belong

    to this level.

    Level III: Spoken by those who have had secondary school education. This level is

    marked by increased fluency, wider vocabulary and conscious avoidance of level 1 usage.

    Level IV: Close to Standard English but retaining some features of level II and III.

    Spoken by those with university education.

    A close look at these levels reveals that Brosnaham based his schema on

    education which is the second parameter as stated by Jowitt.

    Banjo (1996) points out that this analysis which is based only on education is

    somewhat too simplistic and therefore attempts instead a classification based on

    grammatical features and degrees of approximation to a world standard as typified by

    standard British English and Received Pronunciation. Banjo proposed four varieties in

    which educational attainment does play a part but it is not the only determinant. These

    four varieties by Banjo correspond Jowitts linguistic parameter for distinguishing the

    English language varieties according to Nigerian usage.

    Varity 1: Banjo states that this variety is spoken by semi-literates. Their educational is

    not higher than elementary. Their spoken language has a lot of carryover interference

    from LI because of inadequate mastery of the language. They compliment their speech

    with a lot of gesticulations and other Para-linguistic feature like facial expressions.

    Banjo contends that their intelligibility depends on these features. As far as

    grammaticality is concerned, they have a lot of problems with English syntax as well as

    phonology. It is also observed that their use of the English language is socially

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    unacceptable in Nigeria, it is internationally unintelligible and in some cases it is not

    much different from pidgin. The tendency is that the speakers of this variety resort to


    Variety 2: This variety is spoken by about 75% of Nigerians. Banjo posits that their

    syntax can be regarded as passable. They transfer some phonological elements of their

    first language, especially the dental signs. This variety is intelligible in Nigeria but it is

    not very useful for external communication. This is because the speakers fail to make

    vital phonemic distinction particularly between such minimal pairs like:

    hit / hit / heat/ hi:t/

    hat / ht/ heart/ ha:t/

    spot/spt/ sport/ sp: t/

    pull/ pul/ pool/ p :l/

    ship/sip/ sheep/si:p/

    Variety 3: This variety is spoken by about 10% of Nigerian. They can make phonemic

    distinctions with the minimal pairs. To most Nigerians this variety is similar to British

    English but has certain obvious Nigerian features like accent, voice, prosody (intonation,


    Variety 4: According to Banjo, this variety is close to international model and is used by

    a majority of 5% of Nigerians. It is mostly used by those who are naturally brought up in

    England or children whose parents are English.

    Though this variety is internationally intelligible, it is often socially unacceptable

    in Nigeria.

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    Banjos variety 1, is quite distinctive from Brosnaham variety 1, which is in fact

    pidgin and not English. Banjos 1 on the other hand is described as the variety used by

    Nigerians who have internalized the language as a result of the exigencies of their

    occupation. Much of it can be described as broken English, though it should be clearly

    distinguished from pidgin. Not surprisingly, the most striking feature of this variety is


    Granted that none of the three major Nigerian languages, Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo

    has up to ten pure vowels, and only Hausa has a diphthong, Received Pronunciation on

    the other hand has twenty-two vowels made up of twelve pure vowels, eight diphthongs

    and two diphthongs. This accounts for lack of proficiency by Nigerians in the use of the

    English language.

    It has rightly been observed by Banjo (1996) that as most Nigerian languages do

    not have the vowels //, // and // for example, // is substituted for // while in a word

    like bitter / bit/ , / /, is substituted by // and a/ is //. British Received pronunciation

    /: / is replaced sometimes by / : / as in /w :st/ for Received pronunciation /w :st/ or

    /e/ as in fest/.

    Furthermore, there are similar, substitutions of consonant phonemes and these

    vary from language to language. While some languages like Hausa and Igbo do not have

    the phonemes /z/, Yoruba does not have it and so a Yoruba variety 1 speaker would

    substitute /s/. Similarly, for the speakers of some languages including Yoruba /f/ is

    substituted for /v/ and /s/ for /ts/. Breaking up of the English consonant clusters is a

    common practice among interlocutors of some Nigerian languages like Yoruba and Igbo.

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    It will also be important to mention the contribution of Festus Adesonye to this

    discussion of the varieties of the Nigerian English. Adesonye (1973) undertook a study of

    the Nigerian written English and concludes by positing three varieties. This is important

    to this study because some of his views will be applied in the analysis of the written

    language of the Nigeria Police Force.

    Going further, Banjo (1996) states that Adesonyes variety one represents the

    English language of those with only primary education. They transfer a lot of linguistic

    features from their first language to the English language.

    Variety 2 consists of those with secondary education. There are few occurrences

    of their mother tongue interference in their English language.

    Variety 3 according to Adesonye as stated in Banjo (1996) is the apex of the

    varieties. As far as he is concerned, there is hardly any feature that can differentiate this

    kind of English and other educated varieties elsewhere. This variety is used by University


    The varieties of the Nigerian English as used by the Nigeria Police Force will be

    analysed in chapter four of this study. These varieties arise because of the level of

    education of most of the Police officers, and also because of the different ethnic

    backgrounds of the Police Force.


    Fishman (1978) defines a speech community as one all of whose members show

    at least a single speech variety and the norms as a social group which may be either

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    mono-lingual or multi-lingual held together by frequency of social interaction patterns

    and set off from the surrounding areas by weakness in the times of communication.

    Halliday (1978) also defines it as a group of people who themselves as using the

    same language.

    Speech communities may consist of small group bound together by face-to-face

    interaction like the Nigeria Police Force, Onitsha. Social communication within a speech

    community may be seen in terms of functionally related roles which are allotted to

    individuals within a community. Such roles include the drills, parades and so forth. The

    language they use for these roles forms their communication matrix.

    Viewed from this point, the Nigeria Police Force, Onitsha makes up a speech

    community with the use of the Police Jargons. They use these jargons in their day to day

    activities. These jargons form an important part of their communication matrix. It is the

    common language that is shared by all. Though they use the English language, it is not

    intelligible to all of them. This is as a result of education and to some extent, the mother

    tongue interference.

    Nigerian Standard English and the Police jargon are used in both the formal and

    informal activities. Gumper (1972) defines jargons as Special parlances employed by

    certain occupational groups in the pursuit of their activities. It is used to maintain

    exclusiveness; thus, making it unintelligible to outsiders.

    These jargons are used by these Police Officers to perform their day to-day

    activities and through its use; they can be referred to as a speech community because it is

    simply intelligible to all the members of the community. Here are some of these jargons:

    Olokpa Policeman (Yoruba)

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    Dankadede Sir (Master)

    Damsada Police Newspaper

    Shun standing at an attention

    Bade/ prade a group of Police Officers

    File to short

    Unload dropping of ones gun

    Retere to move backwards

    Reading to get set to fire.


    Error analysis can be defined as a systematic diagnosis of the deviation from the

    target language by a non-native speaker so as to effect positive changes in the pedagogy

    of a second language. It is a linguistic deviance in performance on the part of a bilingual.

    Granted that the members of the Nigeria Police Force are bilinguals, in their

    native languages and the English language, the principles of error-analysis will be

    employed in this study in analyzing their English language usage.

    Error analysis according to Corder (1974) is branches of codes. The study of

    error or analysis of errors, he claims are part of an experiment to confirm or disprove the

    psycholinguistic theory of transfer. Error analysis involves the identification of and

    interpretation of errors based on rigorous analysis; it deals with both overt and convert

    errors; that is, errors that are hidden or not easily identifiable and those that are obviously

    interlingua and training transfer as well as error due to communication and method of


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    He also contends that error analysis has to do with investigation of the language

    of a bilingual, with the aim of pointing out errors, in the production of the target


    There are two approaches to error analysis: the contrastive and non-contrastive

    approach. The contrastive approach may be most predictive at the phonological level and

    least predictive at the syntactic level. So many people are of the opinion or assume,

    following logic, that it is easy to understand, that errors made by bilinguals are caused by

    their mixing their native language with second language.

    Summarizing these views of Robert Lado contained in Wilkins (1982), he states


    The errors and difficulties that occur in our learning and use of a foreign

    language are caused by the interference of the mother tongue.

    This goes to confirm the basic assumption which underlines the idea of

    contrastive analysis. This assumption which traces errors in foreign language to mother

    tongue interference also goes further to assert that when the structures of the mother

    tongue and the target language are similar, the usage is not difficult. In cases where there

    exist structural differences between the two languages, there is bound to be error in


    The situation in the Nigerian Police Force is multi-lingual in which many

    languages are spoken and in their use of the English language; they transfer the sounds of

    their native languages to the English language. This transfer hinders their proficiency in

    the use of the English language. This transfer is as a result of the fact that most Nigerian

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    languages do not have up to ten vowels and only Hausa has a diphthong. The Received

    Pronunciation has twenty vowels, made up of twelve pure vowels and eight diphthongs.

    These abnormalities will be treated more elaborately on chapter four of this study.

    With the use of data, it will be shown how the police use the vowels in their native

    languages to make up for the ones in the Received Pronunciation and the reason for their

    incompetence will clearly be seen.

    Apart from the interference of mother tongue, another factor that hinders

    proficiency in the use of the English language amongst the Nigeria Police Force is their

    level of education.


    It is assumed that anybody that has at least a senior school certificate should speak

    English fluently. In Nigeria Police Force, most officers have their pos-primary school

    education but a considerable number have a primary school education. Only a handful of

    officers are graduates. Though most of them have their post-primary education, they still

    find it very difficult to speak the English fluently.

    Atiwhobbel (1991) states that Police should be versed with the language of

    communication which is the English language. He postulated that the mastery of this

    language is very important because their usage of the language affects report writing and

    the giving of evidence. But above all, it affects their relationship with the masses.

    As a result of the low educational qualification of the Nigeria Police Force, their

    use of the English language is not proficient. Most of them learnt this language because

    of the exigencies of their occupation.

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    The level of education of an officer clearly determines his ability to use the

    English language. It would be of great help if the government would organize seminars

    and lectures for Police Officers at least to train them on the basic usage of the English


    Ultimately, we discovered that there are already existing researches on what

    language is, its characteristics, its relationship with communication, the language of the

    other speech communities and professions but there is no research yet on the language of

    the Nigeria Police with particular attention to the problems in its linguistic features,

    causes of the problems and solutions. This is the basis of our research.

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    This chapter discusses the research design for this study, the area of study,

    theoretical framework, method of observation, instrumentation and method of data



    This research was carried out in Onitsha, Anambra State. The Nigeria Police

    Force has many stations in Onitsha, but out of all these, four stations were used for the

    purpose of this research. Some data were collected from these four Police Stations.


    This work is essentially a linguistic study specifically concerned with the

    structure of the English language as used by the Nigeria Police Force. However, it is

    important to note that there is a correlation between grammatical choices and the societal

    function they perform. Thus, the theories of descriptive linguistics and sociolinguistics

    are employed in this study.

    Tomori (1999) believes that modern descriptive linguistics is usually studied

    from the following perspectives: phonetics and phonology (or phonemics); grammar

    comprising morphology and syntax; and semantics. Thus, descriptive linguistics accounts

    for the structural organization of language from the level of phonemic to that of


    Sociolinguistics, according to Osuagwu et al (1997), is the study of varieties of

    language in the light of non-linguistic aspect of social structure. Huddson (1999) sees a

    linguist and a socio linguist as two separate people. According to him, the former

  • 29

    accounts for only the structure of language while the later works on the examining the

    social context which informs it use.

    The relevance of these two theories is subsumed in the fact that a study of

    language without reference to the society that uses it obviously rules out the possibility of

    finding out the social explanation which accounts for the structures that are used.


    During the collection of data for this research, the researcher was present at the

    eight different morning drills by the police officers. As the commandant gives instruction

    to the officers, the research takes down and also records their utterances. Sometimes in

    the process of addressing these officers, she asks questions and the answers to the

    questions by the officers are also written down and used as part of the data for this study.

    The researcher also had the opportunity of listening to their conversation as they

    interview suspects that are in detention.


    The instrument for the data collection for this study was by the participatory

    observation. The researcher was present at the Police stations used for this study for eight

    times to collect and record information during different activities which includes drills,

    interrogation of suspects and meetings.


    The method of data analysis is direct lifting of illustrative terms and sentences

    from the chosen articles. Not all errors are analyzed, only those that are strikingly

    illustrate the features investigated are made to represent the rest.

  • 30

    The method of analysis is essentially descriptive. Two linguistic levels,

    phonology and syntax, are of concern to the research. In the phonological analysis, the

    researcher looks at speech sounds as they were pronounced by the members of the

    Nigeria Police Force. At the level of syntax, sentences which are wrongly used are picked

    and analyzed, giving the right version as it is supposed to be. These included wrong

    expressions, concord and tense errors, omission of sentence elements and wrong use of


  • 31


    This chapter examines the linguistic features of the language of the Nigeria Police

    Force as used in their journals and their everyday activities like drills, parades et cetera.

    Two levels of linguistic analyses, namely syntax and phonology, will be considered.


    This part of study is based on the analysis of phonological errors in the English

    language of the Nigeria Police Force. In other words, this study sets out to identify these

    errors and analyze them.

    Many people have always believed that there is no significant difference between

    the phonologies of the standard of British English and Nigeria English.

    Thus, some say that they are basically the same. This notion however has been

    proved incorrect by the findings of this research.

    For the purpose of this study, the researcher carried out an investigation of the

    phonological competence of the Nigeria Police Force, Onitsha. Their competence in the

    articulation of the English sounds was tested and their errors were identified, classified

    and explained for easy understanding. It was observed that the non-existence of some

    phonemes in their indigenous languages provoked most of the problems with particular

    reference to the influence of their mother tongue on the English language.

    As earlier mentioned, this analysis will involve the use of error analysis. The

    errors committed in the use of the English language by the Police officers will be

    analyzed through the perspective of error substitution, error of omission, error of addition

    and error of over generalization as well as incomplete application of rules and ignorance

    of the rules of restriction.

  • 32


    Inn this area, the researcher is particularly concerned with how the Police Officers

    substitute one phoneme with another as a result of the absence of the phoneme in their

    indigenous languages. This is one of the major problems most speakers of Edo, Yoruba,

    Igbo, Hausa and Efik encounter with English pronunciation. Such problems are restricted

    to those traceable to the phonological interference of their mother tongue on the English


    There are some vowels and consonants which occur in English but not in these

    indigenous languages and as such what is obtainable is the replacement of one sound for

    another. From the data collected, most Police Officers find it difficult to articulate certain

    English phonemes such as // / /:/ because they pronounce any word that contain

    these sounds wrongly.

    The dental fricatives // and / / are invariably replaced by the alveolar plosives

    / t / and / d / respectively. From the data collected, the following words are wrongly


    Here are some examples:

    Words Wrong Correct

    1. Path pat / pa: /

    2. Then den / en /

    3. Father fadar / f a /

    4. They dei / en/

    5. Theme tim / i:m/

    6. Thank tank / /

  • 33

    7. Thorn torn / :/

    8. Thick tick / ik/

    9. Three til / ri:/

    In the same way, some vowels which we do not have in the Nigerian languages

    are also substituted by other sounds and the pronunciations of such words were

    influenced by their spellings. For example, the vowel / / which is most commonly spelt

    U as in cut, cup, O as in mother, blood and come is usually pronounced as / / by the

    majority of these Police Officers.

    Thus, in their speeches, they tend to mispronounce these words. Those words

    mentioned are pronounced as follows:

    10. Cut is pronounced / k t/ instead of /k t /

    11. Come is pronounced /k m/ instead of / k m /

    12. Blood is pronounced /bl d/ instead of /bl d /

    13. Mother is pronounced /m dar/ instead of / m e(r)/


    In the articulation of some English words, it is observed that these Police officers

    tend to omit certain phonemes. This is also as a result of mother tongue interference. It is

    also observed that some Police Officers from Edo and Yoruba omit the glottal fricative

    /h/ when they occur at the initial positions. Thus, they pronounce the following words as


    14. Helicopter is pronounced /elikppt/ instead of / helikppt(r)/

    15. Happy is pronounced /pi/ instead of / h pi/

  • 34

    16. Heat is pronounced / I:t/ instead of /hi:t/

    17. Hot is pronounced /bt/ instead of /hpt/


    Most Police officers who omit the glottal fricative /h/ in the analysis given above

    tend to insert the glottal fricative where it is not required. These set of Officers are mostly

    from Edo and some from part of Delta State. This pronunciation problem can also be

    attributed to mother tongue interference. Some of such words that ate pronounced that

    way are as follows:

    18. English is pronounced /hin f/ instead of /in f/

    19. Hour is pronounced /h /r/ instead of / (r)/

    20. Eye is pronounced /hai/ instead of / ai/

    21. Honour is pronounced /h/ instead of / h t/

    It is also observed that many of them pronounce words according to their

    spellings as in the following:

    22. Listen is pronounced / litn/ instead of / lisn/

    23. Bomb is pronounced /bpmb/ instead of /bpm/

    24. Behalf is pronounced /behalf/ instead of / bi ha:f/

    25. Colleague is pronounced / kliki/ instead of /kli:g/

    26. Whistle is pronounced /wistil/ instead of /wisil/

    In the pronunciation of past tense markers, these Police Officers pronounce them

    correctly when it is realized as /d/ but when it is //id/ they pronounce /ed/ while the

  • 35

    allophone/t/ does not appear in their pronunciation in most cases. Here are some


    27. Provoked is pronounced / provoked/ instead of / prvukt /

    28. Attribute is pronounced / tubu:ted / instead of / tributid/

    29. Exhausted is pronounced / egz : sted/ instead of / igz : stid/

    30. Passed is pronounced /pa:sd/ instead of /pa: st/

    31. Picked is pronounced /pikd/ instead of / pikt/

    From the analysis, it can be observed that not all errors come from mother tongue

    interference. Most of them occur as a result of low level of education, lack of interest in

    acquiring the correct skill and the environment they operate in.


    Wrong expression can affect communication adversely and leave the audience

    confused. Accuracy in speech and writing allow for effective understanding.

    Syntactic errors make the English language incorrect. These syntactic errors

    include wrong spellings, defective punctuation, wrong use of articles, omission of

    sentence elements, concord and tense errors.

    In the journals under study, the following expressions are made.


    1. The secretariat takes care of IGPS speeches, monitors press report, and oversees the

    IGPS secret Registry, Police Officers Wives Association, the IGPS personal

    security staff, and the IGPS Hotline.

  • 36

    The above sentence introduces a list of three action performed by the secretariat.

    There ought to have been a coordinating conjunction (and) joining the penultimate

    verb (monitors) to the last one (oversees). The sentence should be recast as follows:

    The secretariat takes care of IGPS Speeches, monitors press report, and oversees

    the IGPS secret Registry, Police Officers Wives Association.

    2. Recent events in some parts of the country have shown that some disgruntle

    elements with fissiparous tendencies have been sowing seeds of discord aimed at

    derailing the transition programme.

    The error stems from the use of the disgruntle instead of the correct adjective

    which is disgruntled used to modify the noun elements.

    3. The emphasis is more on the acquitted of the innocents rather than the correction of

    the guilty ones.

    The errors above are two:

    a) The first one is the use of the preposition on after the transitive verb

    emphasize. Emphasis is obligatorily transitive and must be followed by a

    direct object.

    b) When an adjective is preceded by the definite article to form a nominal, it

    becomes plural and does not require any-s-plural inflection. Thus the use of

    the innocents in the sentence is deviant.

    4. The above notwithstanding, efforts is made to teach policemen the dignity of

    human person and the need to treat fellow human being with equal respect.

    The error above is the omission of an article before effort which is a singular

    countable noun.

  • 37

    5. It is realized that as the Nigerian society becomes educated, so will it require of its

    police force, articulated professionals, skilled in human resource management and

    competent to analyze and perform its function with integrity, humility, commitment

    and sensibility.

    The first error involves the wrong use of a definite article before Nigerian

    society. When society refers to a nation, it is not preceded by a definite article. The

    second error is the use of an intrusive comma to mark off required from its object

    articulated professions.

    6. He promised to engage in total cleaning and purge of the force

    There is lack of parallelism between cleaning and purge which are joined to

    form a compound structure. The correct version should be:

    He promised to engage in total in cleaning and purging of the force.

    7. Those posted to traffic duties are known to have arbitrarily harassed motorists about

    the traffic rules and regulation, which they never read

    That does not introduce a non-restrictive relative clause. The correct

    conjunction/relative pronoun to use is which.

    8. He has to convince all and sundry that the high level of corruption in the force is as a

    result of alarming percentage of illiteracy in the force.

    An article should precede the noun percentage. It should have read: an/the

    alarming percentage.

    9. The versatile inspector-General of Police, Mr. Etim Inyang is of the view that a

    Police boss should not collude with his subordinate to perpetuate heinous and highly

    pernicious activities.

  • 38

    These articles are replete with punctuation errors:

    a. There is the omission of a comma after the appositive Mr Etim Inyang

    b. The omission of a definite of article before view.

    c. The misspelling of the word Subordinate

    10. Through the setting up of Police community committees in all nooks and

    crannies of the federation.

    The fixed expression nook and corners should be nook and corners so that

    expression is erroneously used.

    11. The penchant for his men to take bribe disturbs Mr. Inyang so much that

    a. There is the omission of an article before bribe which is a singular common

    noun. It ought to have been: a bribe or bribes.

    b. The use of a comma to mark off the subject penchant from its verb disturbs is

    not correct.

    12. recommendation from traditional rulers, are expected to be great significant.

    a. The first error here lies in the fact that the subject is separated from its verb with a


    b. The adjective significant is wrongly used in place of the noun significance in

    that context.

    13. As an incentive in this direction, a 13 year old boy who helped the police catch up

    with an alleged corned robber, has been awarded scholarship tenable up to the


    a. The noun scholarship as used in this context is countable and should be preceded

    by an indefinite article -a

  • 39

    b. The clause who helped the police catch up with an alleged corned robber is a

    relative clause and should not be marked off with comma.

    14. the chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon gave an

    incisive account of the goodies mapped out to improve the image of the Police


    Here, the appositive Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon should have been set off with

    two commas and not a single comma.

    15. Prepared by the IPO who examined the scene of crime and interrogates

    witnesses is known as Modus Operandi (M.O.) report

    The errors here are the lack of parallelism between the two verbs that form a

    compound structure examined and interrogates.

    The correct version should be:

    examined and interrogated or examines and interrogates as the case may be.

    16. This realization led to the formulation of the Modus Operandi (M.O.) system, which

    seeks to analyze according to a give formula the ingredients of crime

    The present tense form of the verb give is used to modify the noun formula

    instead of the past participle given.

    17. Like all rules, however there are exceptions here.

    The error above is a concord error. There anticipates a plural subject to agree

    with the verb are but as seen above, the subject exception is singular instesd of the

    plural exceptions.

    18. But in a given crimes, all these more tangible things may be lacking.

  • 40

    An indefinite article does not precede a plural noun in English as wrongly used

    above in a given crimes.

    Finally, not all errors are analyzed, only those that strikingly illustrate the features

    investigated are made to represent the rest.

  • 41



    The thrust of this work is the linguistic features of the language of the Nigerian

    Police Force, Onitsha. The Nigeria Police Force uses the English language as their

    official language. This work evaluates their use of the English language to determine the

    extent to which they can be proficient in the use of this language.

    The Nigeria Police Force, Onitsha is a multi-lingual community with officers

    drawn from different ethnic groups and languages. Some of the languages discovered

    amongst these officers are Igbo, Hausa, Efik, Yoruba, Ibibio, Izon, Kalabari and so forth.

    The English language is however the official language used in this community. In their

    use of this language, many varieties emanate and this is as a result of certain factors like

    mother tongue interference, low level of education, lack of interest in acquiring

    proficiency in the language. As observed, their English language is far from what the

    Standard English should be.

    Many of these Police Officers are not competent at all in the use of this language

    and this gives rise to many linguistic errors as stated in this work. The reason for this is

    not farfetched. A good number of these officers are neither graduate of English nor of

    other disciplines. Most of them have only first school leaving certificates; a good number

    of the acquired only senior school certificate. Majority of them are primary school

    dropouts and just a handful of them are graduates. They are simply trained on their job

    and no matter their length of service, they are not experts in the use of the language.

    The Nigeria Police Force, Onitsha is a speech community. This is established

    because there is need for a language which is intelligible to all the members of this

  • 42

    community. This need arises because the English language is not intelligible to all the

    members of this community. The language established is referred to as the Police jargon.

    Though most members cannot understand the English language and use it effectively, the

    jargon is intelligible to all the members of the community. In addition to the jargon, they

    also use various signs, whistle and drum languages which they use to convey information

    and messages which only the members of the group can understand.

    The Nigeria Police Force serves the public and their incompetence in the use of

    the language of communication constitutes a problem to the citizens of this country. It is

    therefore recommended that, a language school should be established in the Police

    College. Also they should be exposed to in-service training in order to help them to be

    proficient in the use of the English language. Most importantly, the government should

    take strict measures to uplift the standard of the Force by employing only graduates.

    To this end, the researcher has analyzed the language of the Nigeria Police Force

    as used in their journals and their everyday activities. This will, no doubts, become the

    basis for further research.

  • 43


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