Journal of West African Languages

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Language Family: Atlantic
Topic #1: Sociolinguistics
Code-mixing among Igbo preach Code-mixing among Igbo preachers


Code-mixing and code-switching are very common phenomena in any bilingual/multilingual setting, Nigeria being one of the typical examples. Almost every Nigerian (literate and non-literate) is involved in these phenomena in varying degrees. Whereas code-mixing involves the transfer of Linguistic elements from one Language into another in the same utterance/sentence (as between Igbo/English), code switching entails the switch or shift by bilingual or bidialectal speakers between different languages or varieties of the same language (as between Onitsha variety of Igbo and the Standard Igbo) and even between registers. This communication is based on code-mixing and its socio-linguistic implications in the Igbo community where preaching is supposed to be rendered in the local language. The motivation for the research is the overt reactions of some monolinguals in Igbo at different gatherings in Igbo communities where sermons/homilies were preached. The monolinguals who could not grasp the global message because of the mixed forms of Igbo and English in the same utterance by the preachers kept on asking the persons beside them: “What did he say? What does he mean”? The data were sourced from the speech forms of religious preachers in different parts of Igboland at different church services. The objective of the research is to examine the communicative effectiveness of the preachers and their listeners by watching the reactions of the latter as the former code-mixed Igbo and English in the same utterance. One of the highlights of our findings is that code-mixing truncates meaning and hinders global comprehension of the message by Igbo monolinguals who could not decipher the meaning of the English segments of the communication and continued seeking for clarifications from their co-listeners. The paper recommends that preachers should take time to know the composition of their audience and decide whether to deliver their message in one language (e.g. Igbo) and do a summary of what they have said in another (e.g. English) or get a good interpreter if in doubt of a mixed audience ( i.e. both literate and illiterate listeners).

Created 2017-Dec-7
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