Language And National Development; Challenges And Impediments In A Multilingual Society
1.1 Background To The Study
Human Beings are social animals and language is an instrument of the society which is acculturated into a given society. Through the instrumentality of language, man identifies and make finding about his environment.
Thus, language, in the hand of man preserves, conserves, transmits and appropriates functions and does so across space and time, thereby enabling him to overcome those physical limitations to human endeavours and achievements.
Armed with his linguistic tool, man appropriates all that others before him have acquired, persuades and convince others to his line of reasoning and action, deceives and dominates others, controls his entire environment and exploits whatever is found therein, and also achieves as much as it is within his capacity.
The problems of man’s development and growth become increasingly complex and intricate when the individual is not monolingual and mono-cultural. The failure of any development programme becomes greater and more dismal when the individual has got to operate within a multilingual and multi-cultural community. It is these problems which Nigeria encounters as a result of her multilingual and multi-cultural composition that this research intends to highlight. At the end of the exercise solutions will be proffered in order to help solve the challenges we have as country.
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
Inspite of all efforts to unite and develop society such as Nigeria politically, economically and socially, the state remains an under developed state. This is due to her multilingual and multicultural nature. Language pluralism has generated a lot of problems in the state. Prominent among them include;
The communication gap between the various people, each sees his own language as important, thus creating an impediment to commerce and industry. A warped sense of nationhood whereby genuine unity becomes difficult due to suspicion as various ethnic groups pursue selfish and sectional interests. Picking a national language that is acceptable to the people therefore, becomes difficult.
The hypotheses of study are
- Language is a hindrance to national unity
- Language is an instrument for National development
- How is language diversity a deciding factor toward national development?
1.4 Aims Of The Study
The aim of the research is to discover the effect of linguistic plurality in a given multi-ethnic society like Nigeria, particularly in Nasarawa State where I live and the University of Abuja where I school. It also intends to prove the success or failure of any society. And if language diversity has helped in national growth and development, such as economic, social, political, religious growth, and educational advancement of mankind. The study also hopes to attempt in resolving the issue of “lingua Franca”
1.5 Scope And Delimitation Of The Study
The scope of the research is on the use of language to achieve national development especially in a multilingual environment which is delimited to the sociolinguistics of language and society.
1.6 Significance Of The Study
The importance of this study is that it will showcase how to promote ethnic harmony among all linguistically and ethnically diverse communities in Nigeria. The study is also significant because it will contribute to many of the existing works in this regard especially for both academic and social utilization respectively. It is also significant because it will provide the picture of the issue in question from the perspective of a university community.
1.7 Methodology Of The Study
The methodology of the research is empirical in nature, in which the researcher intends to administer questionnaire as well as an observation within the chosen area of the study being University of Abuja, FCT
The respondents to be administered with the questionnaire are selected through single random selection method of one out of every ten respondents in the delimited areas of the research.
Summary, Conclusion And Recommendations
Bye and large, we have been specifically concerned in this work with the issue of diversity as it affects national development. In doing that, we have had to look at various aspects such as:
Meaning of language, characteristics of Language, multilingualism (Language Diversity), strengths and weakness of language diversity, national development, national language, and theoretical frame work, leading to the findings which show the strength and weakness of the research.
Concluding a work such as this is considered quite tricky as we are sure of the many shortcomings that have menaced our attempt. Beyond that, we believe that a work on language like this one may not seemingly be concluded as the issues dealt in it affect the attitudinal and behavioural dispositions of the members of the speech community, much to that the community is multilingual in nature.
In conclusion, therefore, we need to involve language experts (Linguists) in language policy in order to put in place an objective and effective policy. Our country will be better structured by upgrading the status of the indigenous languages for nation building.
In view of the problems caused by the multiple languages of Nasarawa State, English language should continue to be used as the official language of the state, since no acceptable indigenous language has emerged.
In spite of the fact that the state is a multilingual and multicultural one, we should look at one another as citizens of a single state and family.
A multicultural and a multilingual approach should be adopted concerning language policy in the state. Where there is a great tradition as in Nasarawa State and Nigeria, it is better to use all the languages side by side for conducting state and national affairs. Thus, all citizens should be encouraged to use all language in the state.
Governmental policy that promotes one language above the other should be stopped. This will reduce the level of hatred among our competing linguistic groups.
We should also learn to distribute our natural and man-made resources equitable because monolingualism alone will not solve all our economic, political, and social woes. Simply put, man shall not live by language alone, more monolingual societies around theglobe where there is a lack of peace because of one thing or another.
For example, the conflict between the Ooni of Ife and the Alaafin of Oyo over the Egba Monopoly of political power in western Nigeria, (i.e. Awolowo, Abraham Adesanya, Abiola, Shonekan, Diya, Obassanjo). There is a bickering between Anambra North and South. The Irish Republican Army are up in arms in England. There are conflicts between the Turks and Greeks in Cyprus, Irag versus Kuwait, the Shona versus Ndebele in Zimbawe, Tamil and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka, Arabs and Kurds in Irag and the collapsed soviet union are all examples of societies that have or had common language yet eroded by peace Ker, David (2001).
Language and ethnic feelings should be relegated to the background in deciding which language to choose as a common language among our multiple language.
Therefore, language experts must be involved in national language policy. We should base our focus on benefits even if it takes a long time. A nation lives longer than nationals. The government policy on language should be devoid of political manipulations. Rather, stringent steps towards the sensitization of citizenry on the need to accept a genuine policy on language and look at it as a vital tool for national development should be encouraged.
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