Vol. 46:1 (2022) ► pp.1–25
West African Pidgin as a tool for socio-economic development
This paper highlights the important role of Pidgin in economic development in West Africa. We use a unificationist model of dependence relations to explain the nexus between West African Pidgin (WAP) and the region’s socio-economic development. The study draws on the formidable role that Pidgin plays as the language of communication in the thriving informal cross-border markets along the Nigerian-Cameroonian border. The use of Pidgin is a special case of the general phenomenon of indigenous languages that serve as vehicular languages of the informal economy in Sub-Saharan Africa. The paper argues that the existence of WAP as a language of informal economic activities in this region fosters cooperation and social cohesion that plays a role in the expansion of informal cross-border trade, which is a primary source of household income for the people. The research reveals a sociolinguistic dimension to the expansion of informal economic activities that are a prerequisite to wealth creation and poverty elimination. This finding also suggests that Pidgin can be harnessed for an efficient transition from the informal to the formal economy. Therefore, the paper advocates a region-wide language policy that recognizes Pidgin as a factor in the region’s economic growth and development.
- 2.History and present sociolinguistic status of WAP
- 3.Language policy model: Nigeria and Cameroon
- 4.Linguistic and socio-economic realities
- 4.1West African Pidgin (WAP) and informal cross-border markets: The case of the Nigeria-Cameroon southern border
- 5.A case for formal recognition of Pidgin in language policies