Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has called on promoters of local Nigerian languages to borrow a leaf from the English Language, especially its dynamism and the ease with which it has evolved to dominate global communication.
The governor said this in commemoration of the World English Language Day marked every April 23 by the United Nations to celebrate one of its six official languages.
Obaseki urged language promoters, especially those working to revive ‘dying languages’ to draw from English language’s flexibility and dynamism in ensuring that local languages do not go extinct.
According to him, “A number of languages in Nigeria, according to predictions by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), are at risk of extinction. As we commemorate the World English Language Day, it is imperative to call on culture promoters and language enthusiasts to study and emulate the rise of English language, the concessions that had to be made and the way it warmed its way into the hearts of people across the world.
“So, on this day, I want to call on the various stakeholders to strengthen ties to ensure dynamism for Nigerian languages to thrive. This will in the long run endear the languages to young people and allow for multilingual citizenry.”
Noting that several world languages grew due to their dynamism, he called for policies and practices that allow for Nigeria’s numerous languages to benefit from borrowing, cod-mixing, code-switching and other methods to ensure their survival.
According to the United Nations, “English Language Day at the UN is celebrated on 23 April, the date traditionally observed as both the birthday and date of death of William Shakespeare. The Day is the result of a 2010 initiative by the Department of Public Information, establishing language days for each of the Organisation’s six official languages.
“The purpose of the UN’s language day is to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six official languages throughout the Organisation.”