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Children’s Day: Linguist task parents to transfer Indigenous languages to their children

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Josiah Egbilika

A Port Harcourt-based Linguist and Indigenous Language Advocate, Mr. Josiah Egbilika has tasked parents all over the world to take the transfer of their Indigenous languages to their children seriously.

He made the charge while speaking in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, Nigeria.

According to him, most parents communicate with their children in foreign languages at home, they don’t speak their indigenous languages to their children and wonder why their children can’t speak the language.

“How can the children speak the language when you don’t speak it or use it to communicate with them. You prefer using foreign languages other than your indigenous languages” he lamented” he said.

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The indigenous language Advocate stressed that the form of transferring language to the child is by speaking the language in the home. He emphasized that parents should make it a priority to use their indigenous languages in their day-to-day activities at home.

“Use the language to send them (children) messages. Use the language when you want to pray. Use the language when you are advising them. Use the language every time you are talking to them. Even if you don’t know how to speak your indigenous language fluently, use the little you know. It will help them (the children) in the future, he stated.

Mr. Egbilika said that children have the innate ability to acquire multiple languages while growing up, so, parents from different linguistic backgrounds do not have any excuse not to communicate with their children using their indigenous languages.

Citing a Nigerian child as an example, He pointed out that a Nigerian child by default is a multilingual speaking child because the child naturally, due to the linguistic exposure of Nigeria, the child should speak a minimum of three languages: the indigenous language, Naija known as Nigerian Pidgin and English.

“If you are from a different linguistics background, don’t be afraid. Use your language to communicate with your child or children. You are not overburdening the child. The child can acquire as many languages as possible. Some people speak 5,610 languages, how did they acquire it? It starts from the home, Egbilika stressed”.

The Linguist stated that the best form of preserving culture is through the transfer of indigenous languages from one generation to the other. He mentioned that if any language goes into extinction, everything about the people has gone extinct.

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