Linguistic Hybridity in the Nigerian Pop Culture: A Study of Selected Songs of Tuface Idibia, Davido and Tiwa Savage

Published: SEPTEMBER 2021


Mary Ogah-Adejoh

About Author(s):

Department of English

Benue State University, Makurdi.

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Unofficial English language use in Nigeria reflects the nation’s indigenous linguistic colouration, attested to by lexical innovations, direct borrowings from the local languages, code mixing and code switching, which is fast giving rise to a hybrid variety in the nation. This variety is very profound in Nigeria pop music. While the use of this hybrid variety in the country’s popular music helps to popularize indigenous languages and other forms of culture, there is the concern about its respectability by listeners who do not share the indigenous codes embedded in them, especially foreigners. Even among indigenes, the great linguistic diversity in the country hinders mastery of all the languages. Taking into consideration the potential functions of music in a developing nation such as Nigeria in information dissemination, entertainment, ensuring the smooth running of the society among others, this paper adopts the language contact hypothesis and the encoding/decoding theory of Hall 1973 to interrogate the practice of shrouding popular music in obscure linguistic codes by Nigeria pop artists. Using the songs of Tuface, Davido and Tiwa Savage, the paper examines linguistic hybridity in Nigerian Pop music and what it portends for national development. It reveals that when and where listeners are unable to decode the message of the songs, their communicative value becomes doubtful. It reveals further that, lyrical ambiguity occasioned by arbitrary lexical innovations, unexamined code switching/mixing inhibits the communicative function of music; thus rendering such music ineffective in some cases, in shaping the society. The paper concludes that though linguistic hybridity in Nigeria hip hop music serves the aesthetic designs of the artist, it presents problems of intelligibility to its listeners. It suggests that artists should couch their songs in accessible and acceptable languages which are generally understood by the Nigerian public. If they must hybridise, they should do it in such a way that their messages are not lost to the people. This will aid to inform, re-orientate and propagate government policies, projects and programmes which will trigger the much desired national development.

Keywords: linguistic, colouration, lexical,  innovations hybridity