Inaugural Lecture: UNICAL Don Urges Nigerians To Preserve Native Languages 

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A lecturer at the University of Calabar (UNICAL) Prof. Bassey Okon, has urged Nigerians to strive hard to preserve their native languages, to avoid languages going into extinction in the nearest future.
Okon made the  appeal Monday in Calabar while delivering the 115th Inaugural Lecture of the University on the topic: “Language, Culture and Communication: The Societal Triumvirate”.
According to her, there have been outcries over the gradual extinction of some Nigerian indigenous languages, hence the need to keep them alive.
Okon said that language and culture were the hallmarks of “Our identity,” adding that Nigerians should be bothered that their languages might either die or go into extinction.
Okon, a Professor of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, further charged Nigerians to wake up and make useful contributions towards the survival of their languages and culture.
She added: “Looking down on your relatives who speak your native tongue because you speak perfect English is wrong”.
The lecturer described language as a thread with which the fabric of society is woven.
According to her, the survival of indigenous languages should not just be the duty of the government and linguists but everyone’s duty.
Okon said there was a need for people to be bothered about their languages going into extinction.
She said that it was not about the number of speakers of a particular language, as according to her, languages with a substantial number of speakers could also be endangered.
“For instance, some linguists say that languages such as Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo are endangered in one way or another much more other Nigerian languages
“This portends that the culture of the people will also go extinct since language is the vehicle for the transmission of culture,”  she cautioned.
Okon said that, if given the desired attention, language, culture, and communication will become the building blocks that will keep society together.
She, however, commended the Federal Government for instituting a language policy that recognizes 520 indigenous languages as national treasures.
The Vice-Chancellor of UNICAL, Prof. Florence Obi, in her address, described the inaugural lecture as a forum for learning, saying it remains a platform and an opportunity to acquire more knowledge.
Obi who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Administration, Prof. Eno Nta said the language was useful in communication and stressed the need for Nigerians to embrace and preserve their indigenous languages.
She thanked the inaugural lecturer for delivering a ‘rich’ lecture, even as she called on upcoming academics to tap from her wealth of knowledge.

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