A Review of Language Matters under the Millennium Development Goals

Published: September 2019

AuthorsPhilip Sunday Bagu & Jija Terseer

About Authors: Department of English. Benue State University, Makurdi- Nigeria

Department of Languages and Linguistics. Benue State University, Makurdi- Nigeria


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Nigeria is an African country with multiple cultures, traditions and people with heterogeneous backgrounds. As a result, Nigeria is a harbinger of many languages whose number is not precisely ascertained. Linguists and scholars continue to differ on the exact estimates and figures of languages that are indigenous to Nigeria, with the 2009 declaration of over 500 languages by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC). Out of the number, three languages namely; Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba are tagged, “majority languages” with the rest pejoratively ranked as, “minority languages”. This linguistic trend has influenced the neglect and the continuous relegation of the latter to the background and the exclusion of same from the Nigeria’s Educational Curriculum; which is the mandatory foundation and spring board for development – a prime objective of the MDGs. What then is the future and fate of minority languages and cultures like Tiv in a multilingual setting like Nigeria; especially in the face of their non-recognition by the MDGs? The paper is situated in sociolinguistics and it adopts the language for development approach. It employs the qualitative methodology of analysis as advocacy for the utilization and adoption of prospect of both the ‘minority’ and ‘majority’ languages as joint venture towards fostering national unity and sustainable development in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular.

Keywords: Language matters, Millennium Development Goals, sustainable development