Posts Tagged ‘native tongues’

Rushing to learn English, Zimbabweans forgetting their tongues

30 May 2012

Some of the languages spoken in Zimbabwe and their populations are:

But as children, particularly those in urban areas, strive to learn English and have their attention on iPhones and video games, they are forgetting their native tongues.

In “Zimbabwe: Killing Our Languages Slowly,” Sekai Nzenza laments about the situation even while recognizing the importance of communicating in English. She recalls sitting around the fire, listening to stories about her people. She also recounts that her schoolbook had some of those stories, but also had stories that taught the children to be embarrassed of their language and culture.

Speaking in a mother tongue speaks to the heart

26 May 2012

There are about 400 languages in Nigeria, including the official language (English) and the national languages Hausa (hau), Igbo (ibo) and Yoruba (yor), each with at least 20 million speakers.

Yet even such widely spoken tongues face pressure. Take Beatrice Ejiogu, whose first language is English because her Igbo parents adopted English and sent her to South Africa for schooling. She has returned to Nigeria for university but cannot communicate with her grandparents. As reported in “Using language as instrument of national identity,” her situation is common among the youth of today in Nigeria.

According to Ukegbu Kazi, a secondary school principal, parents should always speak to their children in their native tongues to preserve their linguistic and cultural heritage.

The importance of doing so is summarized in a quote in the article from former South African President Nelson Mandela, who evidently once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”