Meet Kingsley Oluchi Ugwuanyi, Nigerian English language activist

Photo provided by Kingsley Oluchi Ugwuanyi.

In 2019 as part of a social media campaign to celebrate linguistic diversity online, African language activists and advocates will be taking turns managing the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account to share their experiences with the revitalization and promotion of African languages. This profile post is about Kingsley Oluchi Ugwuanyi (@KingsUgwuanyi) and what he plans to discuss during his week as host.

Rising Voices: Please tell us about yourself.

I teach English linguistics in the Department of English and Literary Study, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (currently on study leave). My main research interests include sociolinguistics, Nigerian English, world Englishes, applied linguistics, and (sometimes) Nigerian literature. I am currently undertaking my doctoral research on Nigerian English at Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. I have BA in English and literary studies and MA in Applied Linguistics (Teaching English a second language) both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

RV: What is the current status of your language on the internet and offline?

I study Nigerian English (NE) as a Nigerian language. In fact, preliminary findings from my current research indicate that Nigerians perceive (Nigerian) English as theirs; that is, they enact ownership of that variety of English.

Having said that, I consider that NE has enormous presence both offline and online. However, the bulk of information about NE remain largely academic publications of researchers interested in the language. Nonetheless, there are about 5 different dictionaries of NE that I know, 4 of which are offline while 1 (essentially a draft, but comprehensive) is online.

Interestingly, I am currently consulting for Oxford Dictionaries in a project which will soon include at least 40 NE words in the online version of their dictionary.

RV: On what topics do you plan to focus during the week that you’ll manage the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account?

Nigerian English as a distinct and a Nigerian language.

RV: What are the main motivations for your digital activism for your language? What are your hopes and dreams for your language?

My main motivation is to get people to realise that Nigerian English is a distinct variety of English. I hope that Nigerian English will come to be accepted as the model for English language teaching and public examinations not just in Nigeria (NECO and JAMB) but also in the West African sub-region (WAEC).

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