Monday, 15 August, 2022

Colonisation & Pidgin English

Rishi Ram Paudyal

When people are greedy and lack resources of their own, they tend to do anything to get resources and other economic benefits from other people and nations. They can become as brutal as they can to achieve their ends. We can take an example of the European expansion and the slave trade in Africa. The colonisers not only took full advantage of gold, spices and the fertile land, but also enslaved and sold people. Humans, just because they were not like Europeans, were treated lowly, were stripped off their all rights and sold as commodities. These poor and helpless people were even advertised on the newspaper that they were on sale. It was such a bitter irony that the so-called "civilised" people did not leave any stone unturned to show their own "barbarism".
People were brought in forcefully from different geographical locations to work for the colonisers' plantations and their other businesses. When people were brought in such a way they suffered in many different ways. One of the things they would suffer was the separation from their families, their languages, cultures and religions.
When these poor and helpless people from diverse social and language backgrounds were made to work together on the colonisers' plantations, they needed some kind of language to communicate with each other and one another. When they were ordered by the colonisers and their agents or slave masters, the diverse communities picked some of the things they heard and were spoken to and missed some of them due to various reasons. With the mixture of their own, whatever words, phrases, and the languages they heard from their people who had power over them later became their only language for communication.
Colonisation may negatively impact and even destroy the language of the people. It may also cause new languages to emerge. For example, one of the effects of British colonisation in Nigeria was the emergence of Nigerian Pidgin English. This language suffered from misunderstandings and stereotypes for many years. Some of the accusations were: it was broken and non-standard English; it was uncivilised; it was the language to be spoken by only lazy people; people who spoke this language were even corrupt and had mental deficiency; it was the result of primitive thought process; it was a "baby talk" language. The main reason for this is said to be that these people didn't speak English like the native English speakers. For example, in Nigerian Pidgin English, "How you dey?" means 'how are you?'; "I no gree" means 'I don't agree', "I no-no" means 'I don't know'; "kia-kia" means 'quickly, quickly'; "I no sabi" means 'I don't understand'; "I wan chop" means 'I want to eat'; and "No wahala" means 'no problem'. Nigerian Pidgin English too had its own grammar and vocabulary but it took many years for its recognition as a language of the people.
Colonisation is a great disease and suffering for native people. Colonisers do whatever they can only for their benefits. Modern colonisation may come in different and subtle forms. It can come in the forms of modern language and education. With the start of English language teaching from primary level throughout the country, do you think one day we will have Nepali Pidgin English?