The Politics Of Language in Nigeria


Discussion On The Politics Of Language

Language politics, which will be discussed in this section with particular reference to the situation in Nigeria, is the method used to address linguistic and cultural inequalities in Nigerian political sphere. 

This could show up in how the government recognizes things or in the way language is developed for official purposes.

Language has been viewed from a political, social, and environmental point of view as a powerful tool and means of comradery, fraternization, and successful communication. 

This is due to the continuing vitality of communication as a complex phenomenon in the support of human existence, relationships, and interactions.


It is also recognized as a constant main transmitter and common denominator of culture, philosophy, norms, and practices among nations. 

In light of this, language is regarded in Igbo society in South Eastern Nigeria as a social phenomena and, as such, is tightly linked to the social structure and value systems of the people.

There are several factors to take into account when deciding which language or languages to select from the many ones already in use for official communication, just like in any linguistically diverse body. 

The links between language and identity, language and culture, language and power, and language and ethnicity are the main causes of these problems.


Basically, it has been shown that language usage, especially in Nigerian religious and socio-political publicity is frequently intended to deceive rather than to successfully communicate. 

The main goal is therefore to prevent people from making the proper decision by swaying their thoughts and intentions. 

Since Nigeria's independence in 1960, this decimal has appeared frequently throughout election campaigns.

As a result, the impact of language usage on political activities in Africa is similar to that of political processes in other parts of the world. 

Power acquisition, ideological concerns, resource control and distribution, conflict management and resolution, and governance matters are thus some of the essential elements of politics.


Language plays a crucial role in the construction and maintenance of ethnic identity.

It is a method of human communication that uses both verbal and nonverbal symbols. 

On the other hand, ethnicity refers to a people's way of life, including its history, social structure, and mode of living.


Language and ethnicity are significantly more correlated than language and other social constructs like gender, age, or socioeconomic class. 

The way that race and ethnicity are constructed differs widely across and between societies as well as between and within people.


The majority of researchers concur that both race and ethnicity are social constructs. Sociolinguists have distinguished between the traditional manner of talking about ethnicity and what is known as the new ethnicity.


Human variation is the foundation of ethnicity. It is about "we" vs "some," "them," and vice versa.

Given that most ethnic groups place a strong emphasis on their mother tongues as essential values, it makes sense that there should be a connection between language and ethnicity.

These "core values," which comprise elements of the culture of a people, serve to encapsulate the group and its members. Different ethnic groups speak the same language in some speech communities, although in other situations, linguistic differences are occasionally present along with ethnic diversity.


Ethnic and linguistic differences often coincide; that is, people with different ethnic backgrounds often speak different languages or different varieties of languages. Language can thus be used as a reliable criterion for ethnic identity. 


Nigeria has more languages than ethnic groups. Nigerian languages are put at

over 400, and ethnic groups at 300 or a bit higher. This shows that there may

There may not always be a one-to-one relationship between language and ethnicity.


Relationship between Language and Ethnicity

Language is a crucial component in establishing ethnicity since it can reveal a person's origins and social group affiliation. This includes the varieties and dialects used within a language group as well as the distinct languages that individuals speak.


These language variants not only indicate ethnicity but also other significant aspects of identity like social class and place of origin.

The dialect of a person reveals their origins or current location. People's idiolects might be made up of a variety of dialects that they utilize.


Therefore, our idiolect can convey where we were born, where we now reside, where our parents previously lived, the languages we speak, the cultural practices we follow, and other significant variables that shape our ethnicity.


The visible indicator of a people's identity is their language. Members of a group who see a danger to their political and cultural identity are more prone to assertively claim the symbolic value of preserving or "resurrecting" their language.

When a group with less linguistic diversity accepts its subjugated status, the dominant language overtakes it in favor of one with a stronger sense of linguistic identity. The function of language in society and how language and ethnicity are related.


Education in Nigeria has often touched on language planning and policy. Even though the Nigerian National Policy on Education calls for multilingual education, this provision has continued to be criticized and rejected, therefore it is not put into practice. 

There is a lack of political will to advance language planning and policy implementation, even though some of the problems frequently cited as impeding it are legitimate. 

The government has been working to get the policy accepted by the public, but to the detriment of the public and educational sectors, it has not addressed some of the persistent issues that prevent this aim from being met.

Language planning describes coordinated initiatives to affect the reasons for and ways in which languages are used in a community. It is typically linked to governmental initiatives that focus heavily on status planning, corpus planning, and acquisition planning.


The three areas frequently interact heavily with one another.


Status planning, which entails placing a language or languages in relation to others, is frequently linked to linguistic prestige and function.

As decisions are made regarding the graphization, standardization, and modernization of a language, Corpus planning frequently involves linguistic prescription.


Language policies that encourage language learning are at the core of Acquisition planning.


Linguicism, often known as linguistic discrimination, describes the unfair treatment of speakers of other languages or language variants. 


It can be seen in spoken language, where speakers might be treated differently depending on their regional dialect, sociolect, accent, or vocabulary. 


Linguistic discrimination can occur during various stages of language planning, including the selection of one or more official languages, the language of instruction, the accessibility of essential services like healthcare in minority languages, and the protection—or lack thereof—of minority languages and dialects.


Political language has a variety of characteristics and objectives. When politicians engage with the general public, one of their goals may be to encourage party loyal people to cast ballots.


Making the public adopt a specific general, political, or social attitude can be the goal. Politicians may employ a unique type of communication while interacting with other politicians.


What is known as "SPIN," or delivering information to the media in a way that favors a preferred interpretation without being expressly expressed, is a modern aspect of political language use.


Despite the fact that many writers use the terms interchangeably, propaganda and spin are two different things. Propaganda is based on incorrect information, whereas spin incorporates exaggeration.


Chikezie Ifeoma Melody

Linguistic (Language And Politics)

Abia State University

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