LINGUISTIC FEATURES OF THE LANGUAGE OF THE NIGERIA POLICE FORCE, ONITSHA
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.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
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.
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.
1.2 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
This study being a linguistic inquiry into the language of the Nigeria Police Force, aims at:
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 community.
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.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.
LINGUISTIC FEATURES OF THE LANGUAGE OF THE NIGERIA POLICE FORCE, ONITSHA
1.3 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
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.
1.4 THE RELEVANCE OF THE STUDY
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 public.
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.