27 August 2010

Not "pidgin"

In "Bridges of orality:  Nigerian pidgin poetry" (1995), Ezenwa-Ohaeto writes:

"The exploitation of oral traditions through a synthesized creative crucible enables the modern Nigerian writer to produce fresh, exciting, and artistic poetry. The Pidgin language provides an appropriate medium for this exploitation of oral traditions in poetry, for it acts as a bridge between the orality of verbal communication and the formality of the written word. Thus Nigerian Pidgin poetry is constructed as part of this utilization of oral resources, which has revitalized the literary scene and the poetic tradition. However, the development and utilization of Pidgin as a language medium in Nigerian poetry owes its manifestation to the reality of its profuse use along the coast and also in the hinterland, where the indigenous Nigerian languages predominate."

If multilingual poems faithfully reflect reality, would it necessarily logically follow that monolingual poems distort reality?  Is there really a community today that speaks and understands only one language?  With CNN being omnipresent, one would think that English would be a second language to everyone outside English-speaking nations.  With English itself having borrowed so many words from other languages, even those living in English-dominant communities cannot but be influenced by the "foreign" words.

I think the word pidgin unnecessarily puts a negative value on complex languages.  We should find a better word, such as advanced language?

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