OUR INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE AND ITS IDENTITY
Language is species specific and species generic possession that is uniquely human. It is peculiar to human beings and it can be both an individual property (when it exists as knowledge) and a social property, (when it manifests to perform its functions). The survival of the language of a people is very vital to the people's survival on the whole.
In 2012, the United Nations held a forum on ‘The Study on the role of languages and culture in the promotion and protection of the rights and identity of indigenous peoples’. The importance of language is summed up in the following quote: “Language is an essential part of, and intrinsically linked to, indigenous peoples’ ways of life, culture and identities. Languages embody many indigenous values and concepts and contain indigenous peoples’ histories and development. They are fundamental markers of indigenous peoples’ distinctiveness and cohesiveness as peoples.”
This is because "Language is not only a vehicle through which a peoples culture can be expressed but also a medium of one's thought, imaginations, creativity, aspirations, desires, emotions, indeed the entire human need and capacity" (Banjo, 1971).
According to Hale in Orkar (2006:5), losing one's language entails losing one's "culture, intellectual wealth, a work of art etc. It is like dropping a bomb on a museum." Language captures the entire essence of man. It makes man who he is and what he will become. Chomsky in
Banjo (1971) summed up the attributes of language thus: 'When we study-human language, we are approaching what some may call 'the human essence1 the distinctive qualities of mind that are so
far as we know, unique to man" Any impairment of language in an individual renders him an idiot and for a people, the death of their language causes them to cease from existing. Adeiyongo in Orkar (2006:1)...