Sunday, June 26, 2016

Losing the Igbo language

This is a fascinating radio documentary on the Igbo language, and how it is being lost by an increasingly cosmopolitan population that values international languages more than their native Igbo "dialect" (Igbo is really a language, not a dialect, but I write it this way to highlight how some of the people themselves consider their own language).  It is a worrisome story, repeated time and again throughout the world as native peoples lose their languages.  This process is often aided, as here, by organized churches' (and other colonial institutions') scorn for native, non-colonial culture and customs.  The difference is that Igbo is not some obscure rainforest language with 2000 speakers, but the tongue of a populous, prosperous group of people.  The documentary suggests that the Igbos' very integration into the rest of Nigeria and the world may make for the downfall of their language.  Conversely, those who cling strongest to their language in the documentary seem to resent integration with the rest of Nigeria, serving as apologists for the sentiments that drove Biafra's secession.

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