1.1 Background to the Study
The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines language as “the system of expression by means of words” a particular system of words as used by a people or nation, or “a system of signs, movements and so on used to express meanings or feelings” or “a particular style or manner of expression such as in poetic language”.
Language can also be defined as “a communicative system consisting of formal units that are integrated through processes of combination”. Bonvillain, (2000). On his part, Omojuyigbe (2004) describes language as “a series of sounds strung together in groups to convey meaning to listeners”. From the various definitions of language, one can infer that language is an integral part of human behaviour and it serves as the primary means of interaction between people.
An indigenous language is a language that is native to a region and spoken by indigenous people of the same cultural value and belief. This language would be from a linguistically distinct community that has been settled in an area for many generations.
Many indigenous languages have become endangered because of language deaths or linguicide caused by colonization, in which the original language is replaced by that of the colonists.
The only channel by which human beings abstract reality is through language. Language affects the way we think or perceive our reality. If language is allow to slip away from a particular group of people or culture because of the various trans-national structural revolutions going on in the world today in the name of globalization, we will begin to think further. Such newness affects our reality and this leads to endangerment.
One of such endangerments, that are very important complement to our environment, is language endangerment. The Global Language Register (GLR) observes that “less than a third of the world’s languages are dying...” (Crystal 2000: 7). Moreover, the present reality in the world today is the rapid endangerment and death of many languages.
At the extreme end of language endangerment are Language Attrition and Language Death. It is said that only 600 of the 6,000 of so many languages in the world are safe from the threat of extinction.
The Nigeria situation is quite alarming because both population and language endangerment complement each other. We want to opine that in the next twenty-five years, most of the languages in Nigeria would be gone.
The neglect of the rich Yoruba culture due to the influences of western culture, civilization and language have had negative effects on Yoruba culture and language.
The stupendous mess of our cultural values by the educated youths knows no bound. Children born and bred up by Yoruba parents prefer speaking English language to Yoruba language. In fact, very few students studies Yoruba language in our tertiary institutions. The once cherished language is now neglected to the alters of apathy and hatred.
This behaviour is now part of the challenges facing some of our media houses who are suppose to be the custodian of cultural values and heritage and because of lack of deep understanding of the language especially the usage, it has made many of the newspaper reporter, news translators and editors to bastardized some words, idioms, proverbs and expression while some expression are given different meaning different from what they should interpret.
To this end, the research will examine the usage of indigenous language in print media with an appraisal of Alaroye newspaper being a major Yoruba newspaper in the cradle of Yoruba race believing to have good command of Yoruba language.
ALAROYE became a big name in the Nigerian newspaper industry, though a vernacular tabloid. It came out when there was gab to be filled in the industry, and was widely accepted. This was not a happen stance, but a planned revolution in the newspaper industry in Nigeria. There has been unlimited numbers of vernacular newspaper in Nigeria but has not been so successful because most of the earlier issues were transcription of English newspapers or repetition of news items already carried on radio and television.
Thorough analysis, research works and investigative journalism put the newspaper on a very high pedestal. To informs, educates, entertains and analyses events as they unfold through the Yoruba culture in pure Yorba language. Woven around this culture, it becomes another way of life within the same culture. For this, it circulates more than most of English newspapers in Nigeria with the print run sometimes as high as 150,000 copies per week. It can be seen wherever the Yoruba are domiciled in Nigeria and around the world.
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