Dahunsi Akinyemi "Yoruba Language may die in the next 20 years"

Dahunsi Akinyemi, author of Ede Yoruba ko Gbodo Ku (Yoruba Language Must not Die), speaks on the threats facing the Yoruba language, and why it may die in the next 20 years.

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Dahunsi Akinyemi, author of Ede Yoruba ko Gbodo Ku (Yoruba Language Must not Die), speaks on the threats facing the Yoruba language, and why it may die in the next 20 years.

In an interview with Punch Newspaper, the author who has been a language teacher for many years said that in the next 20 years or less, if efforts are not made, the Yoruba language may die.

Akinyemi who has devoted his energy saving the Yoruba language, argues that he was forced to write a book titled Ede Yoruba ko Gbodo Ku (Yoruba Language Must not Die), because he noticed that the majority of pupils in the primary and secondary schools cannot speak their mother tongue.

He is piqued that there are children born and bred in Lagos by Yoruba parents who cannot say, ‘Mo fe jeun’ (I want to eat) because the parents believe it is a sign of social status if children can speak ‘Queen’s English’?

“I decided to publish a unique book on Yoruba language because of the realisation that the language is gradually becoming endangered — if we go by UNESCO classification,” he told The Punch Newspaper.

 

“How best can I get to these core target audience to let them know that it is necessary for them to have a language one (mother tongue) before the acquisition of a language two (another language)? The Yorubas will say, Eni to ba fe mu obo, o di dandan ko se bi obo, the person who will arrest a monkey has to pretend to be one. These children can only speak and read English language. To get to them, I decided to use English as my medium but I deliberately used a lot of Yoruba words, proverbs and idioms in the book though I have a glossary at the back.”

Also he adds that elders, parents and guardians should stop referring to the language as vernacular and instead act as custodians of the culture.

“Some of the elderly ones who were supposed to be custodians of Yoruba culture were answering my questions in English language! To make it worse, some of them even confessed that their use of the Yoruba language is no longer smooth. If the generation of parents we have now do not see the need to embrace the Yoruba Language, what will happen to their children and their children’s children? It is just a matter of time. If we continue the way we are going, the Yoruba language may die.”

To save the situation, he suggests that languages should be made compulsory for students and it should be added to the curriculum.

His other books include Things Your Teacher Never Told You and A Forest of Money Trees and African Moonlight Stories , co-authored with Ayodapo Oyelana who is based in America. Punch Newspaper added.

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