A Lexico-Syntactic Analysis Of Errors In Selected Yoruba Film Subtitled In English

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A Lexico-Syntactic Analysis Of Errors In Selected Yoruba Film Subtitled In English


Language is learned and shred, it is an arbitrary system of vocal symbols through which human beings in the same speech community interact, thereby communicate. Errors in communication can be inhibitions towards effective communication and decoding of messages. Errors This research sets out to carry out an errors analysis on some selected Yoruba films subtitled in English. Errors were lifted from four Yoruba films subtitled in English and were numbered as attested in each film. Error analysis was then carried out on them. Errors i.e the errors were identified, classified into their types, explain why such errors were made and corrections were proffered where necessary. The research found out that the major causes of these errors were inter-lingual and intra-lingual transfer. Errors The research also found out that errors can cause a break-down in communication in Yoruba films to non-Yoruba viewers and in general.Errors From these findings, Errors the research project submitted that some of the errors that occur in Yoruba film subtitled in English are capable of causing inhibitions in the proper understanding of the message embedded in these Yoruba films to non-Yoruba viewers.



1.0         INTRODUCTION

One of the countries of the world where English language has become part of individuals‟ life after leaving the shores of England is Nigeria. According to history, the English language originated from the languages of the Germanic peoples (the Angles, Saxons, Frisii and Jutes) who migrated to Britain and later formed England. Subsequently, the language began to move from England to different countries of the world through exploration, trade, missionary activities and colonisation. As there had been languages in use in those places before the arrival of English, the contact of English language with the indigenous languages spoken in the countries, within a considerable time, brought about forms of English slightly different from the variety of English spoken in England. This eventually gave rise to other world varieties of English such as American English, Canadian English, Australian English, Indian English, South African English and of course Nigerian English.

Apart from the factors of time and space as mentioned above, the slight difference between Nigerian English and other world Englishes is not unconnected to the fact that the general linguistic forms of the language have been expanded by its Nigerian users. Thus, pragmatics as an aspect of linguistics which studies language from the point of view of users provides an avenue to study English language in relation to the choices Nigerian users of the language encounter while using the language in social interaction and more importantly, the effects of their use of the language on international users of English.

1.1         Background to the Study

English language is no more alien to Nigeria. This is because it has been able to adapt with the culture of the people and thereby nativised and domesticated to suit their beliefs, customs and aspirations. As a result, the Nigerian English can be identified anywhere on the globe based on the distinct features associated to it as a form of English that has been domesticated in the Nigerian society. The features can be noticed in the aspects of phonetics and phonology, morphology, syntax, lexico-semantics and pragmatics.

From a pragmatic standpoint, Nigerian English has in it usage of several words which have been given meanings beyond the meanings they have in their general world (Standard British English) usage. Many lexical items have been given special meanings by Nigerian users of English (Bamgbose 1971). Hence, the context in which many English words are used in Nigerian English has been expanded beyond their original status in the native English society. In addition, the cultural practices of the Nigerian environment have modified the rules of language use typical of English in native situation (ibid.). That is why it is assumed that many words that are used and a great deal of utterances in Nigerian English are Nigerian context based. This is connected to the observation that within the Nigerian society, users of English make utterances their listeners understand as the interractants have „communal lexicon‟ (Clark 1998 cited in Clark 2009) which may be difficult to decode by a speaker of English who is alien to the Nigerian society except he is informed.

At this point, it can be mentioned that such utterances in relation to Nigerian socio-cultural context are embedded in the subtitles of many Nigerian home videos. Without mincing words, the Nigerian home videos are not only playing important roles locally ranging from entertainment to preservation of Nigerian cultures, they are also being patronised by viewers across the globe and thereby transporting Nigerian cultures to the outside world. This therefore underscores the importance of context as a prerequisite for international speakers of English to understand intelligibly the Nigerian English usage as it is usually presented in the Nigerian home video subtitles.

The subtitles are not the actual utterances of characters since the characters use Nigerian languages. On the contrary, they are translation work of producers of the videos whose primary aim should be to get a wider audience. Consequently, for pragmatic relevance and interest of this research, sentences in these subtitles have to be referred to as “utterances” and at the same time attributed to the home video producers in whose language (English) ideas in the videos storylines are being projected to the viewers.


1.2         Statement of Research Problem

According to some advocates of Nigerian English like Brosnaham (1958), Bamgbose (1971), Banjo (1971), Adesanoye (1973), Odumuh (1987) and Jowitt (1991), it is not all forms of English spoken in the country that can be regarded as Standard Nigerian English. They identify non-Standard Nigerian English in their different categories and the Standard Nigerian English which is very close to Standard British English. As a matter of fact, according to them, this variety has to be socially acceptable, nationally and internationally intelligible.

However, as it has been observed, this may not always be the case. Language as a dynamic phenomenon has the ability to adapt with different situations and is pliable enough to be bent by users for the purpose of fulfilling their intra-national linguistic needs in a given conversational context without necessarily considering international intelligibility factors as long as their conversational goals are achieved. As the language is no longer foreign to Nigeria, it is expected that participants in speech would not always rely only on general knowledge of English systems and conventions, but also on their knowledge of cultures, conventions and the factors of situations in which communication takes place (Adegbite cited in Aremu 2009). For instance, when a speaker (of Nigerian English) makes an utterance, such an utterance can be intelligible to another speaker of English only if the latter share the same background knowledge with the former especially when the utterance appeals to cultures and conventions specifically associated with the Nigerian society. In reference to home video production, producers of Nigerian language based home videos usually engage in subtitling their films into (Nigerian) English in order to attract wider audience locally and internationally.

Although these subtitles are made in English, they contain in them some functional elements that are somewhat alien to international speakers of English. That is why the use of Nigerian English in Nigerian home videos subtitles is not enough to guarantee international intelligibility. Thus, in spite of the efforts of the film producers to satisfy the interest of their audience, the viewers of many of these videos who rely solely on the subtitles have been much more confounded. Hence, this study is specifically embarking upon a research to find answers to these questions:

  1. What are the elements of Nigerian English in the subtitles of Nigerian home videos that can hinder comprehension among other speakers of English?
  2. To what extent does context in its various levels contribute to meaningful understanding of elements of Nigerian English in the Nigerian home videos subtitles by other speakers of English?
  3. What is the importance of background information, speech acts and international viewers‟ competences in interpreting meaningfully elements of Nigerian English used in the utterances presented in Nigerian home video subtitles?


1.3         Aim and Objectives of the Study

As it has been noticed, the importance of subtitles in Nigerian home videos in transporting Nigerian cultures and conventions across linguistic boundaries in Nigeria and the outside world cannot be overemphasised. That is why it is required that all users (speakers and hearers) of Nigerian English irrespective of their cultural backgrounds share the contextual knowledge of Nigeria as a speech community before the subtitles which are used for interpretations of utterances of characters in Nigerian home videos can be intelligibly comprehended. In relation to this, this study is interested in investigating the effects of the choices that Nigerian home videos producers make while subtitling utterances of characters in their movies on other users of English who follow storylines of the movies through the subtitles. It is also in the interest of the study to:

  1. identify elements of Nigerian English in the subtitles of Nigerian home videos.
  2. examine the effect of the Nigerian English features on wider intelligibility using a pragmatic analysis.
  • make a distinction between formal and functional uses of Nigerian English as demonstrated in the subtitles of Nigerian home videos.
  1. explain the importance of context in the interpretation of utterances as subtitled in the Nigerian home videos.


1.4         Significance of the Study

To carry out a study on Nigerian English does not mean working on a virgin land. Many linguists have worked extensively in this area. Several studies have focused on true existence of Nigerian English and the need to recognise it as a variety of world English in its own right. Its varieties as well as classifications have also been considered from different viewpoints by Nigerian and non-Nigerian linguists.

By and large, the stance the advocates of Nigerian English have taken to make this variety of English standard both in speaking and writing is that it has to be close to Standard British English. In other words, this variety should be locally acceptable, and nationally and internationally intelligible.

However, it should not be forgotten that English language has adapted to the Nigerian society owing to its long existence in the history of the country. It has been domesticated and modified enough to such an extent that it can even compete with the so-called major Nigerian languages in expressing socio-cultural norms and conventions specifically associated with the Nigerian society.

It seems plausible then to postulate that some aspects of Nigerian English may not be internationally intelligible. That is why this study considers it necessary to investigate Nigerian English subtitles in Nigerian home videos which are carriers of Nigerian cultures and conventions to international communities. The utterances of characters in the subtitles of Nigerian home videos may be misinterpreted by other speakers of English. This may occur if they do not share the same world view and conventions with the users of English in a unique socio-cultural situation like Nigeria. Thus, this study is significant as it focuses on bringing to fore features of Standard Nigerian English that could be presumed to be beyond international intelligibility as demonstrated in Nigerian home video subtitles. It also states what it will require other users of English to understand these features.

1.5         Scope and Delimitation

As a sub-field of linguistics, pragmatics is a multifaceted discipline. This is proved in the considerations of its multi-dimensional definitions and views of individual contributors to the field of study. However, in this research, the basic concern is on context (as an aspect of pragmatics) and its various levels. Interest is also given to background information as a prerequisite for understanding utterances in Nigerian English as represented in the subtitles of some Nigerian home videos.

Subsequently, six selected videos are to be critically viewed and their subtitles transcribed. However, it is only some of the utterances which are relevant to the study that are going to be carefully chosen and pragmatically analysed. It has to be mentioned here that the study does not consider understanding in a broad sense because anybody who understands a language will understand whatever is said in the language but specifically, the study is based on actual speaker meaning of utterances (as presented by producers of the videos in English subtitles) to be understood the way the speakers (that is, the producers) themselves mean them. In addition, it is not in the interest of this study to analyse grammatical and spelling errors committed or mistakes made in the subtitles; neither is the work interested in a detailed review of Nigerian home videos. Rather, the interest is specifically on the relevance of the subtitles to the pragmatic analysis of Nigerian English.

A Lexico-Syntactic Analysis Of Errors In Selected Yoruba Film Subtitled In English

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