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Efik users on Calabar South Local Government Area and aspects of sociolinguistics and documentary linguistics

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 Format: MS WORD ::   Chapters: 1-5 ::   Pages: 70 ::   Attributes: Questionnaire, Data Analysis ::   2,216 people found this useful

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1.1   Background to the study

 Language is the hallmark of any people’s life and culture. Language encompasses people’s worldview, custom, way of life and history in general. The loss of any language by a people is the loss of their root and the loss of their identity. When a language is lost, such a people who experience the loss continue to live in the shadow of other people’s identity and culture. Ethnologists put the living languages of the world at seven thousand with a sad list of three thousand five hundred that are endangered and may be out of reach at the end of the twenty first century. Nigeria as a multilingual country is currently said to have over five hundred languages, though the dominant languages officially recognised by the government remain: English, Yorùbá, Hausa, and Igbo.

The exact number of languages spoken in Nigeria is not quite certain as there are some languages which are yet to be discovered. In fact, what constitutes a language or a dialect has been debated for too long a time by linguists. Hoffman (1974) classifies 396 in language families in Nigeria excluding dialects that are recognised while Hansford (1976) recognises 395 languages in Nigeria. Blench and Dendo (2003) record 550 languages as spoken in Nigeria.

Adekunle (1976) classifies the languages of Nigeria into groups according to their functions as medium of communication in the Nigerian context as examined below:

Class A Languages are the major indigenous languages spoken by at least six million native speakers and used widely outside their state of origin by Nigerians whose mother tongues are different. They are Hausa, Igbo and Yorùbá.

Class B Languages are those not much used outside their state of origin but officially recognised and used at the national or federal level as one of the nine major languages. They are Kanuri, Fula, Edo, Efik, Tiv, and Ijo, etc.

Class C Languages are minor languages with no official recognition at the state level.

While Adekunle’s claims as regards the above classification may be questionable in some respects, especially with reference to Class C languages. It should be acknowledged that the Federal Government of Nigeria (1979) officially recognizes Hausa, Igbo and Yorùbá as tools for the conduct of business in the National Assembly side by side with English. The multilingual character of the Nigerian nation has resulted in its inability to develop a national language that can reflect and integrate the cultural diversities of the nation. This development has placed the English language in a preponderance official life. Though regional languages like Yorùbá, Igbo and Hausa are also recognised by the 1999 constitution as official languages, it is, however, important to emphasize the fact that, English enjoys more prominence among the other languages because while these indigenous languages are restricted to the regions which culturally produced them, English language cuts across cultures, borders and races. Thus, the focus of this paper is to investigate the extent to which the Efik language is maintained or preserved through its speakers attitude in the wake of the domineering influence of English.


1.2   The Efik people

        An entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica 2008 states that the Efiks live along the basins of the lower Cross River, the Calabar River, the Kwa River, Akpa Ikang, Eniong Creek and the Bakassi Peninsula. Calabar, their main city, is on the Bight of Biafra. Calabar is in the Cross River State of Nigeria, one of the 36 States in the nation. The state was officially created on May 27, 1967. The cross river rises from the Cameroon Mountain and flows southward forming most of the State’s western border. It is an important commercial artery in the rainy season. The State is bounded by the States of Benue on the North, Abia on the West and Akwa Ibom on the southwest.  It is bordered on the east by the Cameroon   Republic and the Bight of Biafra on the south. It has saltwater swamps, mangrove forests, oil palms and dense tropical rainforest.
        The State occupies 20,156 square kilometers and is predominantly agricultural. The main crops are cassava, yams, rice, plantain, banana, cocoyam, maize, cocoa, rubber, groundnut, palm produce. Farm fishing is very popular in this area. Major livestock include cattle, goats, and sheep. Minerals resources include limestone, titanium, tin ore, ceramic raw materials and hardstone. It is also an oil producing State. Tourism sites include Obudu Cattle Ranch in Obudu, Old Residency Museum in Calabar, Agbokim Waterfalls in Ikom, Mary Slessor’s Tomb in Calabar, Cross  River National   Park, Kwa   Falls in Akamkpa local  government. Beaded works such as bags, shoes and wall hangings are found especially in Calabar.

Also according to Akak (1982), The Efiks are very well known nationally and internationally partly because of the prominence of Calabar in Nigerian history and also due to their rich cultural heritage. Among the broad culture of  the Efiks are “Ekombi”, the Efik classical music, “Ukwa”, the only fencing  match in sub-Saharan Africa, “Mbuk”, a  collection of Efik folklore, and “Ekpe”. Abang dance is performed for entertainment and at festive occasions. The dance can be simple as well as elaborate with  many interpretations behind it. The most famous cuisine “Edikañikoñ” is renowned as next to none in Nigeria. There are hosts of other traditional dance forms. “Nkuho”, where a young female, who is about to be betrothed in marriage, is confined, taught and molded into womanhood. Here she learns moral values of the community and how to appreciate herself. While in confinement, she is not allowed to do any chores. Instead, she eats as much as she wants; is pampered and taught the Ekombi dance in preparation for the day that she comes out of the confinement. She is not allowed any male visitors except her suitor. The length of time in the confinement has changed over the years.


1.3   The classification of Efik 

 Language classification is one area not many linguistic have dived into. Greenberg (1963) was among the first who classified language according to their family and genealogical  branches. He classified the Efik family as he did with several other languages in African. Other scholars like Faraclass (1989), Essien (2000), Williamson and Blench (2000) also classified Efik accordingly, Greenberg (1963) classified Efik under the Niger-Congo family of the Niger-Kordofonanian  Phylum, this phylum is made up five (5) sub- classification including Cross River. And  it is  classified into two major group; Delta-cross and Bendi and Efik belongs to one of this Eastern Delta – cross language.

        Mensah (2000) quotes Essien (2001) that Efik is a member of the lower cross subgroup of the Delta group of the cross-river sub- branch of the Benue –Congo group. Efik belongs to the lower-cross  group which together the upper-cross group among other groups constitution the Delta  cross families, an immediate sub-family of the enlarge cross river group of languages.

        From Williamson and Blench (2002), Cross River (where Efik belongs) is a group which has survival from Greenberg’s classification with only internal rearrangement. According to Greenberg (1955) it was sub-divided into cross river 1, 2 and 3. These different languages in various families and societies have different cultures. These further besets the Whofian Theory.


1.4   Statement of the problem

        Throughout most of the developing countries like Nigeria, the attitude towards local languages has resulted to the shift and a gradual death of the local languages, this is because the people prefer a foreign language such as English Language to their native language and this happens mostly in Calabar since it has an urbanized area.

Poor attitude towards the Efik Language is the consequence of human action. Urbanization aggravates the shift and death of the Efik language, by restricting the people from speaking the local language which they were born with instead they prefer using the Nigeria pidgin in the place of the local language even in schools like the primary and secondary, teachers have refused to see the need for the local language like Efik therefore children have also lost interest in it.

        To say it all, even most parents at home do not support their children in speaking the Efik Language which is suppose to be their mother tongue, instead they speak against it and all this has contributed to the lost, shift, and the gradual dearth of the Efik Language. As more people grow into the city, the effect intensifies because population also plays vital role in the shift and disappearance of the any Language. In the developed countries, their local or native languages are seen as one of the stepping stones to their success, but in the  developing countries such as Nigeria, indigenous Languages are not taken seriously  and even most of the native speakers of a language like Efik  are not even proud of their local language. This gap between indigenous and exogenous languages in terms of attitude and usage is what this study seeks to bridge, that is the nucleus of the problem we seek to investigate.


1.5   Objectives of the study

The objectives of this study is as follows;

1.     To examine the vitality of Efik language use

2.     To investigate the attitude of Efik speakers towards their language

3.     To establish the extent to which efik is socially transmitted from parents to children

4.     And to account for the factors that promote positive or negative attitude.


1.6   Research question

The following research question were posed to guide study:

1.     To what extent is Efik Language vital in Efik society?

2.     What is the attitude of Efik speakers towards Efik language?

3.     What is the extent of Efik social transmission from parents to children?

4.     What other factors account for positive or negative language attitudes?


1.7   Significance of study

This study will guide policy makers in formulation of Efik Language policy by suggesting ways of upgrading the status of the language and also provide future researchers with a reference point while embarking on language attitude studies.


1.8   Scope of the study

The scopes covers Efik users on Calabar South Local Government Area and aspects of sociolinguistics and documentary linguistics.


1.9   Limitation of the study

        In the course of this study the researcher encountered certain problems that made it difficult for the researcher to carry out the research. These problems ranged from some respondents being unwilling to spend time in the filling of the questionnaire due to individual schedule to financial and time constraints, also combining this research work with lectures and exams proved quite tedious. However irrespective of all this, the researcher claims sole responsibility of the intermittent errors that may show up in this work.


1.10        Definition of terms

1.10.1 Language – language is the human ability to acquire and use complex systems of communication, and a language is any specific example of such a system. The scientific study of language is called linguistics. Language can be defined as verbal, physical, biologically innate, and a basic form of communication. Behaviourists often define language as a learned behaviour involving a stimulus and a response.(Ormrod,1995).

        Often times they will refer to language as verbal behaviour, which is language that includes gestures and body movements as well as spoken word. ( Pierce,& Eplin,1999)

1.10.2 Efik language – This is one of the official languages of the Cross River state in Nigeria, it is the native language of Efik people in Nigeria where it is a national language. The name Efik is also used for Ibibio –Efik. Haspelmath, Martin (2013).

1.10.3 Attitude: An attitude is an expression of favour or disfavor towards a person, place, thing or event. Allport (1937) once described attitude as the most distinctive and indispensable concept in contemporary and social psychology. Attitude can be formed from a person’s past and present.

1.10.4 Language vitality: Language vitality is demonstrated by the extent that the language is used as a means of communication in various social contexts for specific purposes. The most significant indicator of a language’s vitality is its daily use in the home. A language with high vitality would be one that in used extensively both inside and outside the home, by all generations, and for most, if not all.

1.10.5 Language maintenance and shift:

Particularly common phenomena in bilingual and multilingual societies are the so called processes of language shift, when a group progressively abandons its language of origin, at the same time adopting the language of the socially or economically dominant group (Fishman 1971, Baker-Jones 1998). The process of language shift does not finish at the end of the life of a person or of a group of people; rather it gradually develops from generation to generation (Fasold 1984). In such situations, the members of a group start using the more prestigious language in a series of progressively higher number of domains and communicative situations.

The social factors leading to the abandonment of minority languages are many, of different type and usually interrelated (Baker-Jones 1998, Crystal 2000, De Klerk 2000). In this light we refer to demographic factors - as for example the number of the minority language speakers and their concentration in the settlement area - the diffusion of linguistically mixed marriages within the minority group, the status and the prestige of the language on a local and international level, the existing institutional support of the minority language, the intensity of the economic pressure deriving from the wider society, and so on.



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 Format: MS WORD ::   Chapters: 1-5 ::   Pages: 56 ::   Attributes: Questionnaire, Data Analysis

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Attribute:Questionnaire, Data Analysis
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