The Effect of Language Shift and Language Death in Nigeria

The Effect of Language Shift and Language Death in Nigeria
The Effect of Language Shift and Language Death in Nigeria

The Effect of Language Shift and Language Death in Nigeria

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1.1  Background to the Study

1.2  Statement of the Problem

1.3  purpose of the Study

1.4  significance of the Study

1.5  Research Questions

1.6  Delimitation of the Study

1.7 Limitation of the Study

1.8 Definition of Operational Terms




2.1  Language Death

  • Effect of Language Death

Effect on Communities

2.3  Effect on Language

2.4  Is Language Death a problem?

2.5  Effect on Grammar

  • Language Contact and Shift



3.1         Research Design

3.2  Area of the Study

3.3  Population of the Study

3.4  Sample and Sampling Technique

3.5  Instrumentation

3.6  Validation of Instrument

3.7  Administration of Instrument

3.8  Scoping of Instrument

3.9 Method of Data Analysis




4.1  Data Analysis

4.2  Research Presentation

4.3  Discussion of Findings




5.1  Summary

5.2     Recommendations

5.3    Conclusion





This research work was on the effect of Language shift and Language death in Nigeria. It should be noted that language shift means the process in which a population changes from using one language to another. This study became imperative as majority of homes no longer promote indigenous languages. Their children cannot speak their mother tongue as expected but are gradually shifting to a new language called English Language.

The study aimed at highlighting the possible effect of Language shift. To amice at the result, a total of 200 people were randomly selected from the population. The results showed that there is an effect of language shift. Government should promote dialects and parents should encourage their children to speak their indigenous language.




1.1  Background to the Study

In this research work, language shift means the process, or the event. In which a population changes from using one language to another. Language shift is a social phenomenon, whereby one language replaces another in a given (continuing) society, it is due to underlying enhances in the composition and aspiration of the sociality, which goes from speaking the old to the new language.

Moreover, it is usually possible to identify the new language as “ the same” as that is. A descendant of language spoken somewhere else. Even if the new language has some new perhaps unprecedented, properties on the lips of the population that is adopting it.

In addition, language shift result in the spread of the new language, some or all of whose speakers are changing their allegiance. As a result some readings on language spread and endangerment are relevant to language shift. Language shift may be an object of conscious policy.


However, language death may affect any language idiom, including dialects and language. Moreover, language death should not be confused with language attrition which is also called Language Loss. This described the Loss of proficiency in a language at the individual level.


It should be noted that language death is typically the final outcome of language shift. This may manifest itself in one of the following ways:

  • Gradual language death
  • Bottom – to – top language death ; when language shift begins in a high level environment such as the government
  • Radical language death
  • Linguincide (also known as sudden death language genocide, physical language death, biological language death).
  • The most common process leading to language death is one in which a community of speakers of one language becomes bilingual with another language. Thus, gradually allegiance to the second language until they cease to use their original, heritage language.


Speakers of some language particularly regional or minority language may decide to abandon them. This is based on economic or utilitarian grounds, in favour of languages regarded as having greater utility or prestige. This process is gradual and can occur from either bottom to top or top – to – bottom.


A language is often declared to be dead even before the language has died. If there are only a few elderly speakers of a language remains, and they no longer use that language for communication.


Typically the transmission of the language from adults to children becomes more and more restricted. To the final setting that adults speaking the language will raise children who never acquire fluency. One example of this process reaching its conclusion is that of the Dalmatian Language.

Language death can be fast, when the children are reasons such as work opportunities and social status. To this end language shift, also known as language assimilation is the process whereby a speech community of a language shifts to speaking another language.


Effect of Language Shift and Language Death in Nigeria

1.2  Statement of the Problem

The issue of language shift and possible death is very alarming to this part of the world. A situation where Ibibio speakers of English shift allegiance to the second language is what will lead to the death of the language.

Indeed, majority of Ibibio children do not find pride in speaking their language. Even their parents behave it is right for their children to use English even at informal occasions, like a home.

Obviously, this is not favourable to us at all as it may kill our language and by retention kill our cultural heritage.

Language is a symbol of unity, once last, so many thing follow. However, one cannot claim a good identification of his or her tribe without having a fluent ability of speaking his or her language.


This often happen when people regard their language is intenor to another language and this is a clear example of what happens in this part of the world. Akwa ibom speakers of English believe their language is intenor to English, which make them to shift all their effort to learning English. However, this is not so as socio- typists believe all language are equal there is no superior or intenor language.


1.3  Purpose of the Study

Generally, the main purpose of this study was to examine the Effect of Language Shift and Language Death in Nigeria

Specifically, the study aims at studying the following:

  1. Effects of language shift and death on language
  2. The problems of language death to speakers of the language



1.4  Significance of the Study

This study will  be very helpful to Nigerian speakers of English who believe their language are intenor  to English language. Therefore see themselves as intenor too because whatever affects the speakers of the language too.

The research work will also help students of English in sub-sequent works of similar topic.

However, the importance of the study cannot be over emphasize. So reader of the work will be of great benefit to the work, especially those who believe their language is intenor to another.


1.5  Research Questions

The followings research questions were formulated.

  1. Is there any effect of language shift and death on Nigeria?
  2. Is languages shift and death a problem to people?

1.6  Delimitation of the Study

The study will not go beyond the Language of the area of the study.


1.7 Definition of Operational Terms


Speech Community: A speech community is a group of people who share a set of linguistic norms and expectations with regard to how their language should be used.

Dialects: This is a language that is socially subordinated to a regional standard language often historically cognate or genetically related to standard language.


Language Attrition: In brief, Language attrition is the process of decay that a language experiences for lack of use.

Assimilation: a process by which a person or a group’s language and / or culture come to resemble those of another group.

Genocide: In brief, this is a systematic destruction of all a significant part of a racial, ethnic, religious or national group.

Kasabe: In brief, this is a language in the Manbily region of Cameroon’s Adamawa province which crystal found to have died.

Anomie: In brief, this is a situation in which a society provides little moral guidance to individuals.

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