Multilingualism in Nigeria. a Blessing or a Curse

4570 Words Jun 29th, 2011 19 Pages

Multilingualism is an issue that has become a subject of discussion in a variety of language related disciplines. Some researchers discuss multilingualism as a sociolinguistic concept through which issues of language contact and the status of the mother tongue can be interrogated. Others see multilingualism as a political matter, that is, an issue which requires solutions to language problems from the policy makers who are political authorities in a multilingual nation, and as an economic problem, because, as Jahr (1998) states, chaotic language differences are determinants of economic disadvantage whereas well planned language differences are considered to be
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“Multilingualism” is easily distinguished from “monolingualism” (the use of a single language) and “bilingualism” (the use of two languages). Though many developed nations flaunt their national languages in the face of the under-developed ones and thereby give the false impression that they are monolingual, monolingual nations are actually rare. Many a country that is known by its national language comprises a multiplicity of ethnic groups, indigenous and non-indigenous. Such a nation pretends to be monolingual because it has a dominant ethnic group whose ethnic language has assumed the role of a national language.
In France, for example, the national language is French, but there are such minority languages as Breton, Basque, Catalan, Dutch, and German (Trugdill 1983:143). In like manner, Great Britain has English as its national language in addition to Welsh and Gaelic, which are minority languages. There are also other immigrant languages still used as mother tongues within the country. We, therefore, regard societal multilingualism as the rule rather than an exception, not only in the under-developed countries like Nigeria but also in developed ones like Great Britain and France. 1.1 DEFINITION OF THE KEY WORD “MULTILINGUALISM”
The question of how to define multilingualism appears to have split scholars into two groups – those who favour narrow definition and those in favour of a broad definition. For the narrow group,

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