LANGUAGE AND NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT; AN IMPEDIMENT OF A MULTILINGUAL SOCIETY

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LANGUAGE AND NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT; AN IMPEDIMENT OF A MULTILINGUAL SOCIETY (EDUCATION PROJECT TOPICS AND MATERIALS)

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1      Background of the study

Multilingualism or bilingualism being a consequence of language contact has been so sensitive that so many scholars have made some theoretical and critical advances on the issues. There have been arguments that there is no such thing as total monolingualism in any country, not even in countries like the U. S. A., France, Germany etc, where there is only one official language used by the people.

Trugil (1985), says that multilingualism involves speaking more than one language indigenously within a frontier. He stresses the fact that multilinguals is a case of the existence of so many indigenous languages in a particular nation or frontier.

In their own study of multilingualism, Appel and Muyeken (1987) tried to distinguish two types of multilingual. Individual multilingualism and societal multilingualism. They describe societal multilingualism as that occurring in a given society where two or more languages are spoken. Individual multilingualism, to them is: the capability of using and understanding two or more languages. Bloomfield (1953) adds to this, by looking at individual multilingual as: that person who possesses nativelike control of two or more languages.

Kloss (1969) came up with a third type of multilingualism known as impersonal multilingualism. This is a sociolinguistic term he coined to refer to the phenomenon of multilingual usage in the mass media. This gives the idea of special use of many languages especially foreign language alongside the national language of a society.

This concept came up during Kloss‟s (1969b) study of the communicational pattern and verbal strategies in Japan‟s mass media.

Kirsten (1991) holds that what is true of bilingualism holds true also for multilingualism except where the context dictates otherwise. He goes on to describe a multilingual society as one in which two or more languages are used by large groups of the population. On the other hand, bilingualism is seen by Weinreich (1953) as “the alternative use of two languages”.

Kristen (1991) still identified two situations of multilingualism in terms of status: what he calls horizontal and diagonal multilingualism. He says that if the languages spoken in a multilingual society have equal status in the official, cultural and family life of the society, the situation is referred to as horizontal multilingualism. Canada, to him is a typical horizontal multilingual country. Diagonal multilingualism obtains only when one of the languages has official status. Tanzania is an example of a diagonal multilingual country.

Pohl (1965) identifies what he calls vertical multilingualism. This is a case of diglossia, but one thing is that this involves dialects of the same language rather than different languages.

So far, we have looked at different aspects of multilingualism as defined by various scholars, we shall now look at what the opinions of some of those scholars are on the issue of multilingualism and national development.

Pool (1972), accounting for problems associated with language diversity in any nation says:

Language diversity, it is claimed aggravates political sectionalism, hinders inter-group co-operation, impedes political enculturation, political support for the authorities, holds down government effectiveness and political stability.

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LANGUAGE AND NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT; AN IMPEDIMENT OF A MULTILINGUAL SOCIETY (EDUCATION PROJECT TOPICS AND MATERIALS)

 

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