A Survey of awareness of language endangerment in Nigeria
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As Nigerians increasingly abandon the use of their indigenous languages in all domains of life, including the home, this study sought to find out if they were aware of the language endangerment and ultimate language extinction they were courting. The study used a descriptive survey methodology to find out about awareness of language endangerment, and other issues of language use and preferences from eight hundred adults spread over four States of the Federation-Akwa Ibom, Imo, Lagos and Sokoto States. Findings included the following: 71% of respondents have not heard of language endangerment; 83% do not believe their own language could die, while 89% would regret if their language became extinct. This regret, however, seems misplaced since only 40% spoke to their children in their indigenous language; among children aged 6 years to 11 years, 15% cannot speak parents' indigenous language, while the figure rises to 25% among children aged 5 years and below. The paper then recommends massive awareness and sensitization campaigns on language endangerment in the country; ensuring the active use of the indigenous languages in all spheres of life, especially in the home and enforcing the teaching of Nigerian languages in all nursery, primary and secondary schools as recommended in the National Policy on Education. Finally, the paper suggests the Federal Government declare every Wednesday a diversity day when indigenous languages and cultures would be freely used and manifested by everyone, and in every place.
Language endangerment , Language extinction , Indigenous language , Educational policy , Diversity
Paper presented at the 39th Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL)April 17-20, 2008, University of Georgia, Athens, USA.