Retour vers liste

Détail de la contribution

Auteur: Christine OFULUE

Bilingualism and Language maintenance in small language communities in Nigeria: the case of Oko and Gungbe

Abstract/Résumé: The fate of small languages has engaged the attention of linguists over the last few decades in view of global threats of language endangerment and loss. Bilingualism is often identified as the culprit responsible for language shift and ultimately language loss particularly where the other language is a dominant language. However, although bilingualism can and does lead to language endangerment and ultimately language loss, it is largely determined by the dynamics of bilingual stability, ethnic and cultural identity and language attitudes that characterize each linguistic situation. This study examines language use among two small language groups, Oko and Gun within their socio-cultural and historical contexts and the impact of bilingualism on the maintenance of their languages. Both languages share certain features in common that predispose them to endangerment: first, they are comparatively small language groups located in border communities; second, they share close proximity with Yoruba, a regional dominant language; and third, their speakers show a high degree of bilingualism in the use of Yoruba and their mother tongue in various domains. However, while these factors constitute strong indications that the latter are endangered, there are just as compelling factors that suggest their maintenance. The need to understand the role of ethnic and cultural identity in promoting maintenance from the perspective of Oko and Gun's respective socio-cultural and historical contexts as well as their co-existence with dominant regional languages should contribute to the discourse on empowering small linguistic groups in the face of dominant regional languages.