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Ígálà Language Studies and Development: Progress, Issues and Challenges Gideon Sunday Omachonu, PhD, AvHF

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Presentation on theme: "Ígálà Language Studies and Development: Progress, Issues and Challenges Gideon Sunday Omachonu, PhD, AvHF"— Presentation transcript:

1 Ígálà Language Studies and Development: Progress, Issues and Challenges Gideon Sunday Omachonu, PhD, AvHF gsomachonu@yahoo.comgsomachonu@yahoo.com,gsomachonu@gmail.comgsomachonu@gmail.com +2348065309796, +2348058421956 Being the text of a paper presented at the 12 th Igala Education Summit held at Kogi State University, Anyigba- Kogi State, Nigeria. 28 th -29 th Dec. 2012. 1

2 Preamble As academics, scholars, linguists and Igala native speakers, my conviction is that we should be able to give an account of our stewardship(s) in Igala language studies (scholarship, research and publications as well as advocacy)over the years as a way of showing people how we got to where we are today in Igala studies (progress report),the problems, the challenging issues and the need to chart a new course for the study and development of the language especially in the new age of ICT innovations. For instance, the big challenge now is how to adequately document and sufficiently describe/analyse the Igala language scientifically enough and modernise it to compete favourably, at least, with fairly documented and described languages in Nigeria. It may be difficult but it is not an impossible task. This underscores the aim of the present talk. 2

3 Introduction(1) Language is a strong instrument of both ethnic and socio- cultural identity. The development of any group of people is directly a function of the extent to which their language is properly harnessed for creative and productive thinking, self-mobilization, mass communication and group identity. It is to be noted that the advancement of any people (the Igala people, for instance), the political destiny as well as the survival of any race in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world is directly tied to what the people can make of their language. With Igala, for example, we, the speakers can achieve co-operation, unity, understanding, social cohesion, political awareness and healthy living. This is clearly so because language is the phenomenon that makes others possible. We shall return to this later as we present more arguments on why we should study and develop our own indigenous (Nigerian) languages. 3

4 Introduction(2) No matter how good or well placed a language is, harnessing it for both creative and productive thinking will be a far cry without the collective and concerted effort (a show of commitment, passion and affection) by the users in its overall development. The development of any language is faster and more successful if it is subjected to rigorous scholarly studies and investigations (research). This, for now, is to a very large extent lacking in Igala language, and the implications are quite obvious as we shall mention later in our discussion. However, this is not to suggest that nothing has ever been done or heard at all of the Igala language in linguistic investigation. Besides discussing the historical development of Igala language studies over the years, it is my intention to highlight, among other issues, some of the major research findings or discoveries made so far in the study of Igala language. 4

5 The Structure of the Remaining Parts of this Presentation Introducing the Igala language Possible Components of Igala language Studies The Historical Development of Igala Language Studies Major Research Findings from the Study of Igala Language. Why We Should Study and Develop our own Language(Igala) The Challeging Issues & Suggestions (recommendations) Concluding Remarks 5

6 Introducing the Igala Language: Linguistic Map of Nigeria (Blench 2004) 6

7 Introducing the Igala Language: Language Classification (Internal Structure of Niger-Congo, Blench 2004) Proto-Niger-Congo Kordofanian Proto-Mande-Atlantic-Congo Atlantic Mande Proto-Ijoid- Congo Ijoid Proto-Dogon-Congo Dogon Ijo Defaka Proto-Volta-Congo North Volta-Congo South Volta-Congo =Proto-Benue-Kwa Nyo Left Bank West Ukaan East Benue Benue CongoCongo Oko Yoruboid Akokoid Nupoid Idomoid Igboid Kainji Ukaan Akpes Edoid Cross River Platoid Yoruba IGALA Itsekiri Bendi Delta Cross Bantoid 7

8 Introducing the Igala Language Ígálà language belongs to the West Benue-Congo and more precisely one of the Yoruboid languages in Nigeria. Other languages in the group are Yoruba and Itsekiri. It is a dominant language in Kogi state spoken by over two million natives in nine Local Government Areas of Kogi East Senatorial District – North Central Nigeria. The language is equally spoken in some communities outside Kogi state: Èbú in Delta state, Ólóhí & Ìfèkwù in Edo State, Ógwúrúgwú, Ọ̀jọ́, Ìgá & Àsàbá in Enugu State, Òdòkpè, Ńjàm, Ìnọ́mà, Àlá, Ìgbédọ̀, Ónúgwá, Òdè, Ìgbòkènyi & Ìlá in Anambra State (See Omachonu 2011a&b). It is a register tone language with 3 basic tonemes (H,M,L), isolating with agglutinative features, basically SVO, marks aspect but no grammatical tense, major word classes include nouns & verbs. 8

9 Possible Components of Igala Language Studies (1) Igala studies as a whole is a highly unlimited academic endeavour or enterprise as it includes the language, the people, their history and culture as well as the investigation and/or application of anything Igala in any field of human endeavour. Therefore in what follows, we shall concentrate more on language studies. As outlined in Omachonu (2000), Igala language studies like any other language comprise three major components: language, literature, history and culture. 9

10 Possible Components of Igala Language Studies(2) Language: the study of the grammar of the language involves the following levels of analysis: speech (phonetics and phonology) which studies the sound system of the language in terms of its vowels, consonants, tones, syllable structures and phonotactics as well as phonological processes in the language. Next to speech is the study of forms and structures of words and sentences as obtainable in morphology (compounding, derivation & inflections) and syntax of the language including lexical as well as grammatical categories, basic word order and sentence formation (especially question formation, serial verb constructions, split verbs, information structure especially topic, focus etc), semantics, pragmatics and discourse analysis in Igala. Besides, it may extend to vocabulary development, composition writing, comprehension, translation and dictations for language learning exercises. 10

11 Possible Components of Igala Language Studies (3) Literature as a major aspect of the study will involve a general survey of the various literary modes (genres) in the forms of prose, poetry and drama (oral and/or written) including figures of speech and literary/sound devices. It includes introducing Igala oral literature (sources, forms, characteristics and functions) as well as oral prose forms such as myth, legend, folktale, folklore, proverbs, riddles, and so on; oral dramatic forms like music/dance/song, festivals, religious rituals and children games, then oral poetic forms such as children's poems, lullaby, funeral poems, chants, incantations, praise poetry, game poems and so on. One can also look at the written forms if there are; the historical development of Igala written literature and a survey of the various documented literary modes in the forms of prose, poetry and drama in Igala. 11

12 Possible Components of Igala Language Studies (4) History and culture as the third major aspect will dwell on the traditions of origin of the Igala people and the history of the kingdom. It includes a study of their traditional institutions (social, economic, religious and political), e.g. Igala life and institutions, family structures, marriage, greetings, mode of dressing, social and moral core values of the Igala society, and so on. This aspect will also look at important towns & villages in Igala kingdom and major events in their history and civilization, chieftaincy institutions, royal dynasty (Ata, Eje, Achadu, onu and others), Igala heroes, heroines and important personalities in history. 12

13 The Historical Development of Igala Language Studies 1848-1990s (1) The first published account of the Igala language was in Rev. John Clarkes Specimens of Dialects in 1848. In 1935, W.T.A. Philpot published an article entitled: Notes on the Igala. Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London, Vol. 7, No. 4. 897-912. Armstrong (1951) presented a paper entitled, IGALA: A Preliminary Report with Word List at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, and in 1965, he published comparative wordlists of Igala and Yoruba (appeared in JWAL vol.2 no.2, 51-78). Fresco (1969). The Tones of the Yoruba and Igala Disyllabic noun prefix (appeared in JWAL vol.6 no.1, 31-34). Silverstein (1973) in particular, wrote a Ph.D. thesis onIgala Historical Phonology at the University of California, Los Angeles (See Armstrong & Miachi, 1986). 13

14 The Historical Development of Igala Language Studies (2) Akinkugbe, O. O. 1976. An Internal Classification of the Yoruboid Group (Yoruba, Itsekiri, Igala). The Journal of West African Languages, XI,2,1-19. -------------------------- 1978. A Comparative Phonology of Yoruba (dialects), Itsekiri and Igala. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Department of Linguistics and African Languages, University of Ibadan. The search for orthography: 1951 the first orthography meeting was conveyed at Anyigba and the second, the 1984 Igala orthography committee meeting held at Idah (a crucial one for that matter) where certain vital and valid decisions were taken. 14

15 The Historical Development of Igala Language Studies (3) The standard Igala orthography emerged in 1986 and was approved as published by the then National Language Centre, Lagos, under the Ministry of Education. The approved orthography has the following 32 letters (Armstrong & Miachi, 1986:45-46): (1) ab chdeẹfggb gw hI j k kp kwlm n ng nm nw ny o ọp r t u nwu wy Dr. Tom Miachi, between 1984 and 1985 organized three National Seminars/Workshops on Igala language utilizing the services of linguists and language experts like Professors R. Armstrong and Eugene Bunkoroske, Dr. Alex Iwara, Dr. (Mrs.) Femi Akinkugbe and Mr. R. Koops. 15

16 The Historical Development of Igala Language Studies (4) The study of the Igala language at the NCE level started first at the College of Education, Kastina-Ala in Benue state in the 1987/88 academic session In the 1990/91 academic session, the Department of Nigerian Languages was established at the Kogi State College of Education, Ankpa where Igala, Hausa and Igbo were introduced. And finally, each of these languages became an autonomous department in the college in the 1996 /1997 academic session. 16

17 Major Research Findings from the Study of Igala Language From the 1980s to the present a few works have appeared on Igala language studies in particular as well as other aspects of Igala studies in the forms of journal articles, monographs, books and research projects or theses in tertiary institutions across the country by scholars both non- native and the native using native intuition or limited linguistic knowledge. Major recent research findings in Igala language studies (esp. research works by native linguists) on aspects of the grammar of Igala (Omachonu 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, Atadoga 2007, Ejeba, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and Ikani 2010) could be briefly outlined below: That Igala language has thirty (30) phonemic sounds made up of twenty three (23) consonants and seven (7) vowels as against thirty two (32) published in the Igala orthography of 1986 (See Omachonu 2000, 2001, 2011). 17

18 Major Research Findings from the Study of Igala Language From the consonant and vowel distributions, the clear cut syllable structures of Igala have been identified in the forms of (V, CV and CVV) but the most common is (CV). This is because (CV) has the widest distribution as it is found word initially, medially and finally. The syllable structure and phonotactics of the language reveal that although it permits vowel sequence, it does not allow consonant clusters. Even the vowel sequence as allowed in Igala language is restricted to vowel /i/ occurring either before or after another vowel e.g. (2): ábίádog kpàί and épìòmudòláisoul/life èbiesevenàìlòfear 18

19 Major Research Findings from the Study of Igala Language Igala maintains predominantly open syllable structure, which means that consonants do not occupy syllable or word final position except the syllabic velar nasal (ŋ) as in (3): 3:éun [έŋ]thing ùjèun[ùʤεŋ] food òun [òŋ] he/she/it. Notice that the syllabic nasal in the examples above maintains constant mid tone irrespective of the tone of the preceding segment (See also Omachonu 2000, 2001a, 2003). 19

20 Major Research Findings from the Study of Igala Language In addition, nouns are mainly vowel initial whereas verbs are predominantly consonant initial as shown in the data below (4): NounVerb ómachildjẹto eat àtáfathermì to swallow ájiriverjίto steal éwógoatmọto drink 20

21 Major Research Findings from the Study of Igala Language Even the so called glottal fricative /h/ is highly restricted to occurring only before high front unrounded vowel /i/ in the language thus (5): hì to cookìhìòló catrarrh òhì answer òhìmìnì sea àhίmá louseàwóhì left u ̀ hi ̀ a tiredness 21

22 Major Research Findings from the Study of Igala Language Igala as a register tone languag uses the three basic register tones (tonemes) of High, Mid and low contrastively to perform both lexical and syntactic functions in the language (See Omachonu 2001a: 97 – 98). (6): i. áwó guinea fowl ii. ákpácloud àwòstar àkpàMuslim àwóa slap àkpáinsect àwōcomb ákpàhard wood áwòa hole ǎkpàmaize áwōan increase iii. Ìlèhe went Ílèhe has gone However, the language does not allow mid tone word initially for noun class words as well as a co-occurrence of two mid tones in bisyllabic nouns. 22

23 Major Research Findings from the Study of Igala Language Ejeba (2009) repots that whereas independent words are fully toned in isolation, tone is assigned to clitics only in syntactic positions, to express syntactic distinctions for subjects, objects and genitive phrases, to express tense, aspect, mood (TAM) and negation on subject clitics, and to specify the semantic role of non-pronominal enclitics. It has been observed also that /h/ and /r/ word finally especially in personal names such as Attah, Abbah, Adejoh, Akoh/Akor, Achor in Igala are unacceptable; likewise the double tt and bb in Attah and Abbah respectively. This is because apart from the fact that the language does not permit consonant clusters, it is an attempt to force the English language system on Igala (Anglicization of the Igala orthography) (see Etu 1999, Omachonu 2000, 2001). 23

24 Major Research Findings from the Study of Igala Language Consequent upon these discoveries, the following spelling reforms have been recommended in the affected name of persons, places or things as shown in the data below (7): Unacceptable Acceptable UnacceptableAcceptable Attah/ Atah Àtá EgudahÉgwúda Akoh/Akor Ákọ EgucheÉgwúchẹ Attaboh/Atabor Àtábọ Oguche Ògwùchẹ´ Abbah/Abah Àbá OguÓgwū Adejor/Adejoh Ádẹ́jó UkuÚkwú Akuboh Àkwúbọ̀ EgumeÈgwúmẹ́ 24

25 Major Research Findings from the Study of Igala Language The taxonomic categorization of words into parts of speech like noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, adjective, preposition, conjunction, and interjection, though it may work perfectly for English, may not be so with Igala language. For instance, it could be argued that there are only two open word classes or major parts of speech in Igala namely, nouns and verbs. All others are either derived from these two or exist just as small groups of words in the language. 25

26 Major Research Findings from the Study of Igala Language The use of nouns, especially parts of the body as prepositions (8): WordGlossPrepositional Value ójίheadon éfùstomachin, inside ùbìbackbehind ọ́gbáfrontbefore ọ́wọ́handside Owing to the fewness of conjunctions and prepositions, the Igala language, at times, resorts to serial verb constitutions (SVC). Serial Verb Constructions or Verb Serialization refers to a string of verbs or verb phrases within a single clause that express simultaneous or immediately consecutive actions, have a single grammatical subject, have no overt connective markers, and are understood as having the same grammatical categories (see Baker 1989) (see also Omachonu 2006, 2011, 2012, Ejeba 2011. (9)I mu ọ́kọ́ gba (du) je̩ S V N(Obj) V V V He catch/carry money receive carry eat He collected & embezzled the money 26

27 Major Research Findings from the Study of Igala Language Igala exhibits several morphological processes such as affixation (including prefixation, suffixation infixation, and suprafixation), reduplication, calquing (desententialization), clipping, compounding and borrowing (see Omachonu 2001b:60-64). However, unlike English, Igala lends itself more to derivational than inflectional morphology. Besides, suffixation which is highly productive in English morphology is hardly attested in Igala Language. (10): PrefixRoot/stemWordGloss ékó̩che̩ékó̩che̩leaning -ingto learn ù-kó̩che̩ùkó̩che̩lesson art of to learn á-Kó̩che̩ákó̩che̩ leaner/ student agentto learn 27

28 Major Research Findings from the Study of Igala Language Plural formation for nouns and verbs in Igala. The use of verbs like ko and jo̩ signal plural formation in the following sentences (11): du wa carry/bring SGL come du tinyo̩ throw SGL away ko wa carry/bring PL come ko rinyo̩ throw PL away I de̩ emi he/she/it SGL is here ma jo̩ emi they PL are here On noun plural formation in particular, it has been observed that whereas the am(a) morpheme normally used as nominal compound for plural formation is animate restricted, ab(o) morpheme is human specific and for the non-animates, plural formation takes the forms of reduplication, the use of plural verbs, as shown above (see Etu 1999; Omachonu 2003, 2011). (12): ákúko̩ teacher àmákúko̩ teachers ónè̩ personàmonè̩persons (people) ẹ́laanimalàme̩laanimals 28

29 Major Research Findings from the Study of Igala Language The Use of ab (o) as plural marker (esp. for human common nouns): (13): (ii) Singular Plural ó̩ne̩kè̩le̩male/man àbókè̩le̩males/men ónobùle̩female/woman àbókùle̩ females/women ògìjoelder àbógìjoelders ímo̩to̩child àbímo̩to̩children 29

30 Major Research Findings from the Study of Igala Language Others for Further Reading Omachonu (ed.) (2011). Igala Language Studies. A ten chapter book published in Germany last year covering major aspects of the grammar as well as other related issues such as literature, history and culture, Igala traditional education, and so on. Recent contributions by some non-native linguists /expatriates Dr J F Ilori (2010). PhD thesis on Yoruba and Igala nominal constructions Driemel Imke (2011). MA thesis on Igala syntax at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. Esther Nordman (2012), Morakinyo Ogunmodimu, on-going PhD research at Tulane University, USA and other scholars or researchers across the globe. 30

31 Why We Should Study and Develop our own Language(Igala) As it has been argued earlier, part of the reasons we should study and develop our own indigenous languages include the fact that: Language is at the heart of the development process of whatever kind in any community or nation. It serves as the key link between all the realms that make up a community: wealth, power, value system, self-definition and evaluation of a community (Ngugi 2008). Language is a strong instrument of both ethnic and socio- cultural identity and the development of any group of people is directly a function of the extent to which their language is studied and developed. As it stands, any race whose language is not adequately documented and used for any literary or serious academic or literacy purpose has no real identity; such a race is decadent. The development of any language is faster and more successful if it is subjected to rigorous scholarly studies and investigations (research), publications in scholarly books and journals as well as advocacy. 31

32 Why We Should Study and Develop our own Language(Igala) Igala has been at a serious disadvantage in terms of linguistic scholarship or investigation over the years. For instance the following foundation publications on African/Nigerian languages and linguistics have no information on Igala Westermann & Ward (1933). Practical Phonetics for Students of African Languages. Ladefoged (1964). Phonetic Study of West African Languages equally excluded the language in that comprehensive survey covering about sixty-one (61) West African languages. Dunstan (1969). Twelve Nigerian Languages Heine & Nurse (eds.) (2000). African Languages: An Introduction Aikhenvald & Dixon (eds.) (2006). Serial Verb Constructions Yusuf (ed.) (2007). Basic Linguistics for Nigerian Languages Teachers Aboh & Essegbey (eds.) (2010). Topics in Kwa Syntax 32

33 Why We Should Study and Develop our own Language(Igala) Several factors may account for the slow or lack of heart- warming progress in the study of Igala language and the corresponding slow pace of development in the language. First, the language is not a major language in Nigeria and therefore does not receive the attention accorded the three major Nigerian languages; Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. Secondly, there are only a few native speakers of the language who are linguists or have the required linguistic training with which to rise up to the challenges of advancing the study and overall development of the language. Besides, research has shown that the negative language attitude of most native speakers towards the study of the language as a school subject, together with the corresponding lack of incentives from the government(s) and well-placed individuals, among other factors, has impeded the wind of progress in his direction (See Omachonu 2011). We shall return to this later as we discuss some challenging issues associated with Igala language studies and development. 33

34 Why We Should Study and Develop our own Language(Igala) At present, Igala is not taught in schools as it should neither is it used as a medium of instruction in schools, it is listed among Nigerian languages without curriculum and it is not taken at any public examination. The earlier we realized that knowledge of language is knowledge in its totality and that mother tongues are the fountain 'head' of creative thinking, and then concentrate on the study and development of our own, the better and more rewarding for us. There is a growing awareness or realism among language experts that linguistic attribute can influence learning and in turn attracts economic advantage. As Haruna (2012: 11) has argued: Language is looked at as human capital and the language skills of an individual are interpreted as a source of educational and economic advantage. Individuals and nations who are not able to use their languages for all their main transactions of their daily lives, they are doomed to life of dependency in the shadow of the languages of the colonizer (see also Djite 1993, Prah 1996). 34

35 Why We Should Study and Develop our own Language(Igala) Besides, the study and development of the Igala language, for instance, will lead to massive job creation (8,668 needed to teach Igala, Yoruba, and Hausa at primary JSS & SSS in Kogi state 2009/2010 session, c.f. Federal Ministry of Education 2011, pg. 58), reposition Igala children to knowing and appreciating their language and rich cultural heritage. It will equally halt the endangerment of the language and reposition it to compete favourably with well studied, documented and developed languages in Nigeria- Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Efik and a few others. The efforts at Igala language studies and development will not only expose the Igala community to the tradition of reading and writing but would ensure safe keeping of somewhat permanent records and preservation of our core values and cherished cultural heritage and practices. In addition, we could secure or keep our top secrets in our mother tongue as a security strategy against the enemy(ies) and/or foreigners. 35

36 Why We Should Study and Develop our own Language(Igala) Other reasons we should engage in the study and development of the Igala language are: To raise the sociolinguistic profile of the language. I share the opinion of Awobuluyi (2012:5-6) that what will help us in raising the profile of the low esteem indigenous languages is to first empower them both linguistically and politically and then remove every obstacle in the way of evolving in our midst strong traditions of publishing respected and treasured works of scholarship and literary creativity in them. As it has been argued further, only such respected scholarly traditions can help raise them above the orbit of low variety speech forms in which they are currently stuck. To ensure that Igala language survives possible future subjugation or foreseeable future threats. A well-entrenched and time-honoured tradition of scholarly and literary writing in Igala could protect the language against any future threats of endangerment or permanent linguistic subjugation (see also Awobuluyi 2012b). 36

37 The Challeging Issues and Suggestions/ Recommendations As pointed out earlier (in the preamble), documenting the Igala language adequately and describing or analysing it sufficiently and scientifically enough and modernising it to compete favourably, at least, with fairly documented and described languages in Nigeria may be an uphill task. It is not without some challenges. Even at that it is not an impossible task. Unfortunately, Igala language study today, all said and done, is faced with some difficulties or challenges especially in terms of scholarship and its overall development. Some of the challenges include: (i) Apathy towards mother tongue and the problem of dialect variations (ii) Issues in language standardization and the variety to study and develop 37

38 The Challeging Issues and Suggestions/ Recommendations (iii) Lack of standard source materials for language teaching and learning e.g. comprehensive syllabus and/or curriculum, primers, textbooks and other instructional materials. (iv) Lack of qualified language teachers and/or native speaker linguists (v) Inconsistencies, controversies and recent changes in the Igala orthography (vi)Lack of adequate knowledge and linguistic skills for language documentation and description (vii) Lack of incentives from the government and other stake-holders (individuals and groups). 38

39 The Challeging Issues and Suggestions/ Recommendations In spite of these problems or challenges, my attitude is that instead of allowing discouragement to weigh us down, we should allow the challenges to spark off interest in us as we encourage research in the language; beleiving that the best way out of a problem is to find an endeuring solution. It is against this background that we proffer the following suggestions or recommendations as a way of collectively charting a new course for Igala language studies and development: 39

40 The Challeging Issues and Suggestions/ Recommendations Considering the chaotic linguistic situation in Nigeria in which over 400 indigenous languages compete for space and recognition, it is imperative we embrace our own and hold it very close to our chests by turning off our hitherto gross negative language attitude and concentrating on its study and development. Igala language is the real identity that we have as a race or a people, therefore we cannot afford to toy with our collective destiny. As Igala people, the only way we can achieve most of our shared dreams for the development of the language is through some joint and cast-iron commitment from us as academics and native speakers of the language using our energy, time, knowledge and resources of all descriptions. For instance, against all odds or the challenges, Igala language is undergoing some scientific study following the several attempts at language studies and development reported earlier. However, these 40

41 The Challeging Issues and Suggestions/ Recommendations dotted attempts need an umbrella body to serve as the regulating agent for all that one says or does in the study of Igala language. For instance, at present, people write Igala language anyhow without paying particular attention to certain writing conventions and principles guiding presentation of data. The Igala language needs a language development to champion the course of all- round language development in Igala. Im happy to announce to us the birth of Igala Studies Association (IGSA) and I wish to invite all Igala sons and daughters especially core acdemics irrespective of the discipline to be part of the association. The maiden annual conference of the association comes up in April 2013 at the Kogi State College of Education, Ankpa (the flyers and posters announcing the conference are being distributed. Eunsure you get one and make it a duty to invite others because we are sure you will attend). Membership is open to all (including non-native speakers) who are genuinely interested in the study and development of any area/aspect of Igala studies. 41

42 The Challeging Issues and Suggestions/ Recommendations Faithful implementation of the provisions of the National Policy on Education for mother tongue education in Igala speaking areas of the state. It could come as Igala in Schools Project (IISP) just like the Nupe in Schools Project (NISP). Collecitvely we could impress it on the government through the Ministry of Education to commence the implementation of mother tongue education in Igala land, especially at the primary school level and even at junior secondary schools to start with. This is imperative because the mother tongue as the fountain head of creative thinking constitutes and remains the foundation for the childs other language experiences and learning in life (see Awobuluyi 2012). The Linguistic Association of Nigeria (LAN) has been deeply concerned about this and has recently written a position paper on this to the Hon. Minister of Education on Massive Job Creation through Faithful Implementation of the Provisions of the National Policy on Education (15 th September, 2011). 42

43 The Challeging Issues and Suggestions/ Recommendations LAN has also submitted a memo to the Chairman, Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution on a similar position concerning mother tongue education and other linguistic issues that deserve constitutional attention (29 th May, 2012). Apart from a collective change of attitude, we could empower the language politically by actively promoting it as a social property through the following means: purposefully developing it, actively teaching it as school subject and teaching other subjects in it as supported by the appropriate government policies and making it a required instrument for access to political and material rewards such as employment, promotion, appointments and training opportunities. As a medium of instruction in schools and medium of communication in administration at various levels and in the key sectors of the state economy, we must pay attention to the modernization and expansion of the vocabulary to enable it to cope with such demanding functions. This could be achieved by encouraging and promoting guided research and publications in the language and developing meta-language for it as well. 43

44 The Challeging Issues and Suggestions/ Recommendations In addition to putting in place a language development association and establishing language study and development centre(s) for Igala and other languages in Kogi state, tertiary institutions especially the university can be a very strong and effective instrument in language study and development. The university has the required expertise in trained linguists and language specialists who can competently handle issues in language studies and development as well as language policy matters. The university also has needed funds voted annually to sponsor rsearch in such areas of need and common interest. Considering the roles that a language such as Igala plays in the community as it relates to the transmission of knowledge, values and other know-hows, no research can be more relevant than that in language designed to achieve and enhance the communicative and expressive powers of human language. 44

45 The Challeging Issues and Suggestions/ Recommendations The university owes it as a duty to concentrate on the study and development of a language or languages within its immediate environment. As it were, establishing a Department of Languages and Linguistics in our own university here, the Kogi State University will help us realise most of our shared dreams for the study and development of Igala. Lastly, there is a lot that individuals and groups can do on the path to the study and development of the Igala language. If each of us either as individual or group were to engage in some hands-on activites towards meaningful study and development of the language in our respective chosen areas of research or endeavours, there would be much more to show for Igala language studies and its overall development as well as the rich cultural heritage that we have hitherto been ignoring to our peril. 45

46 Concluding Remarks Im quite convinced that with commitment, time, and sufficient financial resources, any language at all can be studied and developed to the level of a viable and effective means of communication and medium of instruction. However, if after all said and done, there are still some iota of doubt left in some of us concerning the feasibility of charting a new course for Igala studies and development, I leave such doubting minds with the following as food for thought. The first is an anecdote and the second, a charge. i. A little boy had read numerous stories about various life-and- death struggles between a man and lion. But no matter how ferociously the lion fought, each time the man emerged victorious. This puzzled the boy, he asked his father, why is it, Daddy, that in all these stories, the man beats the lion, when everybody knows that the lion is the toughest cat in the jungle? 46

47 Concluding Remarks The father answered, Son, those stories will always end like that until the lion learns how to write (culled from Killens, 1965:46). ii. Recall that individuals and nations who are not able to use their languages for all their main transactions of their daily lives are doomed to life of dependency in the shadow of the languages of the colonizer. Whereas our forefathers may be excused because they apparently did not have this privilege, opportunity and the benefit of early contact with any writing systems as well as the awareness, there may be no excuse for us and our children because we have heard and have seen. In all, whether we realise our dreams for the study and development of the Igala language depends entirely on our determination and commitment or lack of it; what we do or fail to do as individuals and as a people. 47

48 Thank you for your attention 48


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