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By Manfred Krifka, Austinlsaarbriicken

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For example, native English speakers would say “I requested a loan from my boss” where Nigerian English speakers would say “I requested for a loan from my boss”). ” The word “bunkerer,” the Nigerian English word for “oil thief,” is uncommon, perhaps non-existent, in British and American English. There is another category of usage errors in Nigeria that I like to call bad grammar about grammar. By this I mean the tendency of Nigerians to misuse or encipher the terminologies of grammarians with unique meanings.

But to “suffer” somebody is to tolerate or put up with them even if you find them unpleasant. That’s why the Standard English idiom “(not) to suffer fools gladly” means (not) to tolerate or put up with the stupidity of people. When the 419 emails said the Obasanjo government was “out to suffer us,” they meant his government wanted to make them suffer for the sins of the late head of state. The verb form of the word “gist” is also not known to any other variety of English outside Nigerian English.

It was the legendary Chinua Achebe who once said, in defense of his creative semantic and lexical contortions of the English language to express uniquely Nigerian socio-cultural thoughts that have no equivalents in English, that any language that has the cheek to leave its primordial shores and encroach on the territory of other people should learn to come to terms with the inevitable reality that it would be domesticated (Achebe, 1997; Ohaeto, 1997). Well, perhaps, it is not altogether unreasonable to aspire to write and speak English that closely approximates the way it is written and spoken in America and Britain, especially because of concerns for mutual intelligibility.

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A Compositional Semantics for Multiple Focus by Manfred Krifka, Austinlsaarbriicken


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