â€˜MY OGA AT THE TOP': PRAGMATIC FAILURES IN THE NIGERIAN INTER-LINGUAL COMMUNICATION CONTEXT AND THE LINGUISTIC MECHANISM OF ACCIDENTAL HUMOUR
The study reported in this paper examines accidental humour, which derives from Nigerian English (NE) speakers' production of wrong communicative effects through the faulty use of speech acts or one of the rules of speaking. Such humour construction is unintentional because it reflects the ESL speakers' inability to understand what is meant by what is said. The study shows that pragmatic failure results not only from errors in syntax, inaccurate pronunciation, L1 interference, overgeneralization, but also in part from the lack of pragmatic awareness and cross-cultural interactional communicative competence, and misunderstanding or miscommunication of the implied meaning. The accidental humour, which results therefrom, essentially stems from script opposition and script overlap, but lacks intentionality that plays a key role in intentional humour. Results of the analysis reveal, inter alia, that unintentional humour in interlingual communication derives from the NE speakers' lack of communicative competence in the target language, i.e. Standard English. The paper concludes that although cross-cultural pragmatic failure is a product of interlingual communicative mishap, its humorous effect tends to mollify anger and soothe frayed nerves in Nigeria's frustration and stress-ridden contemporary society. Nonetheless, the demonstrable blissful ignorance of the basic rules of the English Language by an appreciable number of NE users questions the atavistic cling to it as the nation's official language in the midst of over three hundred indigenous languages begging for attention from the government.
Keywords: pragmatic failures, Nigerian English, humour, interlingual, communicative competence.