The Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics) at the University of Jos (UNIJOS), Prof. Rahila Gowon on Monday raised fears that minority languages in Nigeria may soon go into extinction because they do not have autography.
According to her, such was also the reason why the implementation of National Language Policy of the Federal Government has been difficult.
Gowon stated these in an interview with journalists after declaring open the first international conference on language and literature with the theme, “Language Communication and Literature in an uncertain and turbulent world”, organized by the Department of English, UNIJOS, where she represented the institution’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Tanko Ishaya.
At the event, the Head, Department of English in UNIJOS, Prof. Jeff Doki said the conference was important because language and communication could be used to end conflicts.
He said the international conference, the first of its kind in UNIJOS, brought together over 300 scholars from different disciplines, especially from the academia, language and literature, to chart a new future for the study of English, Literature and Communication Studies, “which are the key to development and progress.”
Gowon said, “I remember when I was an undergraduate, we were taught to write lesson notes in our languages and teach even in Biology and other subjects areas. Yes, for the minority languages, they’re likely to go extinct but not for the majority languages. Already the major languages have autography. They are being enforced in the school system as major subjects. They may not go extinct but minor languages are likely to go. But it is left for parents to teach their children at home because they are the first teachers.”
To check the threat of languages going into extinction, Gowon said the National Language Policy should address it but however agreed that people do not adhere to it.
The DVC said, “The National Language Policy stipulates that the medium of instruction in the junior primary school is the mother tongue or language of immediate community. However, we find out that there are so many languages that are in use. But people prefer to go straight to English, because they do not want to or don’t know which one they should take as their language of instruction.
“Of course, there are some major languages like Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Efik and maybe Tiv who use the mother tongue. But in Plateau State, it’s been very difficult. Secondly, implementation of this has been very difficult because many languages do not have autography. But these are being developed and they are being encouraged.”
The chairman, Local Organizing Committee of the conference, Prof. Jerome Dooga, in his presentation titled, “Navigating the communication minefield in a turbulent and uncertain world”, said language had never been neutral.
He said, “The task of making sense of the increasingly complex communication minefield requires an amalgam of interdisciplinary perspectives and approaches.
Language has never been neutral. But in today’s world linguistic communication has become especially contentious as humans promote novel and sometimes strange ideologies. Our world is a linguistic and communication minefield. Peaceful human co-existence has become increasingly challenging by the day.”
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