Odochi Akujobi


The  English  language  has  consistently  dominated  the  language  community  in  Nigeria, especially  in  educational,  administrative  and  commercial  platforms,  where  it  provides  a common basis for interaction. Besides providing a milieu for mutual communication, it is perceived  to  pose  a  plethora  of  consequential  dangers  to  the  indigenous  languages.  The historical  background  of  the  English  language  in  Nigeria,  the  linguistic  and  cultural hegemony  of  the  English  language  in  Nigeria  and  the  consequences  of  the  English language hegemony are critically examined. The paper opines that the Berlin conference of  1884-85,  the  industrial  revolution  of  Europe  in  1750  and  the  abolition  of  Trans-atlantic  trade  in  1883  heralded  the  eruption  of  the  English  language  in  Africa  and Nigeria in particular. It further argues that the English language achieved its dominant role  as  an  international  language  because  it  has  been  postured  as  an  instrument  of foreign  policy  by  the  English-speaking  nations.  It  identifies  native  language  extinction, loss of aboriginal identity/culture and neo-colonialist tendencies of the English language as  major  consequences  on  indigenous  Nigerian  languages.  Although  the  benefits  of  the English language are numerous, its engagement must be rationalized to functional areas, in  order  to  preserve  the  cultural  and  social  identities  inherent  in  Nigerian  indigenous languages.

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