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Nigerian English words added to Oxford English Dictionary

The most recent linguistic update of the Oxford English Dictionary has expanded their record to include a number of Nigerian English words.

According to the OED: “The majority of these new additions are either borrowings from Nigerian languages, or unique Nigerian coinages that have only begun to be used in English in the second half of the twentieth century, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s.”

Some of the words and usages added include: ‘to put to bed, in put, v.’, ‘chop-chop, n./2’, ‘buka, n.’.

The OED commented on their decision, saying: “By taking ownership of English and using it as their own medium of expression, Nigerians have made, and are continuing to make, a unique and distinctive contribution to English as a global language. We highlight their contributions in this month’s update of the Oxford English Dictionary, as a number of Nigerian English words make it into the dictionary for the first time.”

Speaking exclusively to Cherwell, a spokesperson for the OED said: “The OED has added Nigerian English words as part of a wider effort to broaden our coverage of World Englishes in the dictionary. We believe that including words from all world varieties of English enables the OED to tell a more complete story of the language. The sheer number and variety of these words reflect not only the global reach of English, but also the unique culture, history, and identity of the various communities all over the world that use English in everyday communication.”

“The OED acknowledges that with the current status of English as a world language, no longer is British English to be regarded as the dominant form of English – it is only one of the many individual varieties of the language that share a common lexical core but develop their own unique lexicons. Each World English is a living, changing variety, whose distinct vocabulary encompasses all sorts of lexical innovations, from borrowings from local languages to new abbreviations, blends, and compounds. They give a flavour of what its speakers have contributed to the development of the English word store.”

“In recent years, the OED has published particularly large batches of new entries for English varieties spoken in Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, and now, Nigeria. For each project, our inhouse research has been enhanced by expertise from linguists in each region. We will continue to work on these varieties, as well as on other Englishes in West Africa, East Africa, and the Caribbean. We are also working on a targeted survey for our core academic audience, in order to better understand the specific requirements of our users with regard to our World English coverage.”

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