Sociolinguistic Studies, Vol 2, No 2 (2008)

Changing trends in language choice in Nigeria

Herbert Igboanusi
Issued Date: 7 Dec 2008


With over 250 ethnic nationalities and about 400 indigenous languages (Adegbija 1997) existing alongside English (the official language) and Nigerian Pidgin (NP), it is to be expected that language choice in Nigeria will be complex. Patterns of choices in language are not static and may be caused to change from time to time by socio-political developments within a society. The present study examines the extent to which socio-political activities, ethnic reawakening, state creation, migration and economic considerations may affect drift in language use. It identifies changing trends in language choice in the legislature, the print media, in political campaigns, in writing, among young persons, for ethnic disidentity, and choices induced by regional retraction and the rise of ‘state languages’. While some changes indicate an expanding use of the indigenous languages (as with the cases of the legislature, political campaign, the print media, writing and the rise of ‘state languages’), trends in language of the youth and language use in the electronic media point to a growing dominance of English.

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DOI: 10.1558/sols.v2i2.251


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