Pidgin English: A University Student’s Language Nemesis
“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” -Peter Drucker
During an interview with a media house that has extensive coverage, he sought to impress. He tried all he could to sound fluent and erudite. He did not succeed. He didn’t because tried as he could, his speech was littered with pidgin expressions. His anguish was palpable as he succumbed agonizingly to the ‘interruption’ of Pidgin English. Clearly he couldn’t give what he didn’t have. Yet this was a final year university student.
Of course, this is not the fate of many university students, but it definitely is the case for some, especially the male students.
Jim Rohn’s wise counsel to us is: “Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.” The import is that if you don’t practice your communication skills, you won’t be able to communicate effectively when the need arises. Unfortunately what many university students practice unwittingly is bad communication through their use of pidgin English.
The point here is not to suggest that pidgin English be avoided altogether, but that it shouldn’t be a replacement for standard English, especially among university students. Students capable of speaking standard English. Ideally, it should be avoided though.
Sadly, in many university hostels, pidgin has replaced ‘good’ English. Paradoxically, the few who insist on speaking good English are seen as too inflexible, too formal and even ‘too-knowing.’
They can’t understand why such people avoid the easy way out that is pidgin English! Pidgin English is the easy way out, the right short cut that enables you to communicate without the encumbrance of the complicated grammatical rules of standard English.
Put simply it’s a cheaper version of ‘good’ English.
But its insidious effects are catastrophic. It doesn’t only help decrease your stock of vocabulary for formal occasions, it slows down your fluency.
It’s quite common to see students fumbling and flopping during presentations. They struggle painfully to get their points across to their audience. Some shamelessly read out. They then resort to ‘sign language’ and strange gesticulation. A little practice would have saved them the labour.
No serious company employs graduates to use pidgin in its administration. If you attend a university only to improve upon your pidgin, you would have wasted your time. Pidgin has no place in serious transactions!
Whatever job you intend to do after your university education, pidgin English is going to be an unlikely requirement. But good English will always be a prerequisite. And not many people will forgive a university graduate who is unable to express himself or herself correctly and fluently in good English.
WRITTEN BY: EMMANUEL ASAKINABA