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Nigerian Languages Risk Extinction

Posted by Edonaze on May 22, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Nigerian Languages Risk Extinction’




‘Nigerian Languages Risk Extinction’


From Bukola Olatunji in Abuja, 06.07.2010


Unless drastic measures are taken to preserve and promote them, there is every indication that all Nigerian languages may be abandoned in favour of English in the next century.

There are also predictions that only Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish and Arabic may survive beyond the 21st century owing to the tendency of people to abandon their own languages in favour of those that are more useful to them.


This is because 45 per cent of the world’s population speak only five languages, namely Mandarin Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish and Russian and the top 100 languages of the world are spoken by 95 per cent of the world’s peoples, while the remaining 5 per cent speak over 6, 000 languages, with some languages having only 100 speakers or fewer.


Former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Munzali Jibril, who sounded these notes of warning in a keynote address delivered at a Roundtable on National Language Policy, in Abuja, called on the Federal Government to declare all Nigerian languages as national cultural treasures that should be developed, preserved and promoted.


He added that it was time the Federal Government carried out “the much delayed language survey in order to determine the true linguistic landscape of Nigeria as a basis for language development work.”

According to him, “academic underachievement in Nigeria is directly traceable to the failure of students to comprehend what they are taught owing to linguistic deficiencies.”


While observing that “it is probably unrealistic to expect a national language to emerge in Nigeria, given the negative attitudes of other tongues and unstoppable onslaught of English, the Professor of Linguistics said beyond the three major languages, all those with estimated number of speakers in excess of one million are viable as media of instructions in education.


Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i, who declared the roundtable open called on the participants to bring their expertise, informed positions and patriotism to objectively chart a course for the language policy project.

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