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Between the Conference Arena and the Outside Linguistic Phenomena: Fantasies and Realities of the Dis/use of African Languages
Adeyemi Adegoju (Department of English, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria)
In the wake of the hegemonic influence of foreign languages like English and French, African languages in these modern times are being marginalized in terms of acquisition, learning and use. Although researchers in African linguistics have taken great strides in the description of the indigenous languages at all levels, it is rather worrisome that their modus operandi has been predominantly, and ironically too, tied to the framework and terms of reference of western schema. Equally, the knowledge and findings from their intellectual explorations are largely circulated within the confines of the academia. Consequently, there are missing links between linguistic theorizing/modeling at conferences/workshops and the trajectory of African linguistics-cum-development, as the social relevance of the researchers’ endeavours has been illusive.
Drawing on the Yoruba speech community in Southwestern Nigeria, this contribution sheds light on four major indices: education, literary culture, religion and the media, where researchers’ work turns out to be a mere academic exercise, far from upsetting the status quo. Thus, this study advocates the imperative of probing into the socio-cultural relevance of western paradigms to the African (linguistic) situation in the bid to exploit the neglected aspects of African milieu that could engender the survival of African languages. Among other things, the emphasis hitherto laid on literacy could be shifted to the aspects of oral cultures already lost to the stifling influence of the globalised world. Above all, the task of salvaging African languages from their present precarious situation should not be seen as an all-academic-affair, as collaborative efforts with other stakeholders beyond the academia would forge worthwhile links between the ‘town and gown’.