Nigerian govt. must intervene to prevent extinction of minority languages – Experts


Nigeria’s government needs to restrategise on a national language policy to avoid about 50 indigenous minority languages going to extinction, an expert has said.

The President, Linguistic Association of Nigeria, LAN, Chinyere Ohiri-Aniche, stated this on Tuesday during the opening ceremony of the 29th annual conference of the association holding at the University of Jos, Plateau State.

She did not list the affected minority languages, some of the over 250 languages spoken by different ethnic groups across Nigeria.

“Let me also use this opportunity to advise the federal government on the need to reawaken the national language policy project which is moribund already,” she said.

Represented by LAN Vice President Harrison Adeniye, Ms. Ohiri-Aniche called for the establishment of language centres to prevent possible extinction of most minority languages in the country.

“We would like to use this opportunity to remind you, sir, of the promise made on behalf of the university to establish the centre for minority languages in your institution,” she said while addressing the representative of the vice chancellor of the Jos university.

“We know this centre when established will go a long way in documenting and revitalizing well over fifty languages, most of which are moribund.”

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Jos, Sebastian Maimako, in an address lamented that there was a decline in cultural and ethnic language speaking among some Nigerians.

Represented by the Dean, Faculty of Arts, of the university, Tor Iorapuu, Mr. Maimako charged the linguistic association to fashion out a way of revitalizing moribund languages in the country.

“Given this unfortunate situation of language and cultural decline in our various immediate communities, I enjoin you as teachers, scholars and professional researchers in the academic discipline of linguist as well as in other related areas of language studies to deliberate and fashion out viable means of readdressing issues of inadequacies relating to the documentation and revitalization of minority languages in Nigeria.”

The Vice Chancellor charged parents and teachers to teach young people how to speak and write in local languages.

“Revitalization of minority languages in Nigeria is key, such that our children can grow to speak and write in our indigenous languages,” he said.

The LAN 5-day annual national conference ends on Friday after which a communiqué is expected.


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  • Karl Imom

    The responsibility of preserving a dying language lies with the people who naturally speak that language, NOT the Federal Government. The Federal Government cannot order people to learn how to speak a language they are NOT interested in speaking. People should be encouraged to raise their children in their cultures rather than foreign cultures. Right here in Nigeria, many families in large cities speak only broken English in their households as opposed to their own ethnic languages. On the contrary, Chinese and other Asian families in the United States raise their children in their ethnic languages. When it comes to Nigerian-Americans, they raise their children specifically to speak only English language. Are you asking the Federal Government to monitor what languages Nigerians raise their children to speak?