Nigerian Indigenous language and the Challenge of Extinction

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Department of Linguistics, Language and Culture


Generally, this paper addresses the present indigenous language situation in Nigeria, and in particular, the Yoruba language, which IS one of the three major languages in the country. Most of these indigenous languages are on the verge of extinction. For instance, a prominent Yoruba king, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, observes in a National daily (The Nation) of November 13th, 2013, that "Yoruba language and culture faces the threat of extinction" (p.8). In a similar context, In The Nation cited above, Ohiri-Aniche alerted that "Although, some Nigerian languages, Igbo and Yoruba, still have millions of adult speakers, they are nevertheless ranked in the category of endangered languages compiled by UNESCO, in about two to three generations (around 50 to 75 years' time), most Nigerian languages would have stepped into extinction, dead and buried forever" (p.13). Therefore, it is worth the trouble to 'rescue' the Yoruba language from extinction in the nearest future. This work employs library methods by sourcing for the past relevant language policies with reference to the Yoruba language in order to gain insights into the future problems prospects in regards to the language. It is discovered that for the Yoruba language to thrive and survive as a living language, previous language policies should be seen to be implemented and further pro-active language policies be put in place to protect the indigenous languages, In this case, the Yoruba language from "being under fire ". There should be additional constitution provision for protection of the Nigerian indigenous languages to survive and ,develop to meet the political, economic, social, scientific and technological needs of the country.



Indigenous languages, Yoruba, UNESCO, King