AFRICAN LANGUAGE AS AN ADEQUATE DEPICTION OF AN ADEQUATE AFRICAN REALITY
EVOLVING ON ADEQUATE YORUBA LANGUAGE
This chapter will examine Godwin Azenabor’s view that the particular language used to report African philosophical temperament is insignificant as long as the temperament reported is acceptable. The chapter argues that what is important is the fact that one must be communicating with the audience to be address. The implication to this is that Yoruba language like every other African language including the ideas and belief of the people is thrown into relegation and a whole lot of things about the conception of reality in Yoruba language will be lost
In the current chapter an attempt will be made to further Makinde’s view that African languages are underdeveloped was also examined. It was noted that the underdevelopment that African languages were accused of, is only relevant when one compare them with other languages but since every culture is dynamic, such dynamism will be taken into the culture’s language.
The current chapter will examined Makinde’s view that African languages are underdeveloped. With regards to Yoruba language, the chapter will argue that inter-cultural influences can help to develop Yoruba language better through the assimilation of basic concepts.
1.1 Language, Culture and Reality
As human beings, the function that language plays in our lives cannot be overlooked. It is a necessary condition for human existence since humans are all members of a culture and because this so, one of the components of a culture is the language in which its members communicate their ideas. Besides being a means of communicating our ideas, language is also a means of thought. The thought that it seeks to communicate is of course influenced by the cultural context into which its thinkers belong. Each and everyone have a differing frame of thought, before even taking cultural factors into consideration at all. It is this kind of reasoning that underlies the contributions of the Milesians who were of the same society and still postulated different things in their attempt at apprehending nature. It is the same reasoning that lies behind the thoughts of British Empiricists, Locke, Berkeley and Hume as well.
Thus, it is established that our language is a necessary condition for philosophical thought. It becomes impossible to think, believe, or to act or even to be conscious without a language. Hegel wrote in his preface to his Science of Logic: “It is in human language that the forms of thought are manifested and laid down in the instance”[i]. For Micheal Dummett,
Language is the expression of what the speakers want to express, that is, their thoughts and experiences. It is commonplace to hold that language is a medium of communication and also a vehicle of thought[ii]
Since our world includes our thought as well as our reality, whatever thought we may have, it will be impossible to capture concepts that are alien to once culture with the language. This is because even attempting to think about alien ideas to one’s culture requires the usage of one’s language as a basis of conceptualization. Even Noam Chomsky mentioned that the “possession of human language is associated with a specific type of mental organization”[iii] so that whatever mental organization allows one to think beyond the confines of his/her culture, is only in connection to our language. Much like in the complex ideas of John Locke which explain language as the combination of several simple ideas in the mind of the perceiver.
One beliefs and intentions cannot really be articulated, not even in behavior, unless they are expressed through language and same goes for cognitive states as well. That language enables us to communicate our ideas to others does not imply that this process of communication is one of simplicity. An individual may convey different modes of thought in different ways. At one point of time, the adult may use language to assert, at other times to state objective facts or convey information, for instance, “the weather is changing for worse”, “bodies fall to the ground”.
The relationship between language and culture is a complex one due largely in part to the great difficulty in understanding people’s cognitive processes when they communicate. Language does not exist apart from culture, from the socially inherited assemblage of practices and beliefs that determines the texture of our lives.[iv] The fact that one uses their language to capture our reality in different ways enables it to affect our communication. Since language is tied to cognitive ability, and it is in an attempt to communicate ideas which themselves are mental events that one employ language. It is therefore natural that differences as well as disparities should emerge out of our attempts to capture our reality. On another ground, it is true that reality is subjective to individuals and is just “out there” for us to apprehend, but the language with which one attempt to apprehend this reality is of a subjective character and if it is the only means through which one could adequately capture Yoruba reality, then there are bound to be differences, since language being subjective can be employed as pertaining to the mind-frame of each user. More or less most people agree that language is, in some way, a system of symbols related to entities in the world (as they are represented mentally) and to the connections between them.[v]