Full Project – Factors affecting the choice of language in a multilingual society

Full Project – Factors affecting the choice of language in a multilingual society

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1.1. Background to the Study

Language is the most important aspect of human being, it is a means of communication between and among people. It is used when expressing feelings. Samsuri (1983) pointed out that language is a tool used to express peoples thought, feelings, willingness and behaviour; a tool used t influence and be influenced.

Nigeria as a country and indeed Africa as a whole is home to largely multilingual population and many multilingual communities. There are n fixed boundaries between language groups, people live and move freely between language groups. People switch freely between two or more languages in their everyday interactions. Myers-Scotton (1993) noted that “speaking more than one language in one conversation in one day is the rule rather than the exception in Africa”.

Although English language is the general and official language of Nigeria, other native languages are still used by societies to interact with each other. Nigeria has over 720 languages. Membersof the community feels some kind of love and comfort when they communicate in their regional language. Thus, members of the community switch their language (official and regional) especially in multilingual community.

Multilingualism is extensive and covers many different contexts and theories of language use, recently the emotional aspect has received more attention. Dewale (2004) noted that mixed instruction, early onset of learning the language, frequent use of that language all play a role in language choice. Migration largely contributes to language contacts and change.

The choice of a language in a multilingual context is a complex task and it depends upon different variables such as language user’s social background, profession, educational background, attitudes and different social domains. It is a sociolinguistic phenomenon, which refers to selecting languages for different purposes in different contexts.

This research is sociolinguistics analysis (language and society) that will describe language choice in society.


1.2. Statement of the Research Problem

Nigeria is a multilingual country with varieties of communities having different languages. The community of the Yoruba in West Nigeria like any other ethnic community has issues concerning language choice, language use, language attitude and their right. This study attempts to explore the Yoruba language and its use in an Anglophone, multilingual community. It also aim to investigate the Yoruba’s attitude towards Yoruba and other existing languages in their communities.

It is against this background that the researcher considered the study of factors affecting the choice of language in a multilingual society.


1.3. Objectives of the study

The aim of this study was to investigate the factors affecting the choice of language in a multilingual society. The specific objectives are to:

  1. explore the domain use of Yoruba and English in a multilingual Nigerian community.
  2. investigate the factors behind their linguistics choice.
  3. investigate the attitudes of Yoruba community towards Yoruba language, English language and other languages.


1.4. Research Questions

This study will be guided by the following research questions:

  1. In what domain do the Yoruba community use Yoruba and English?
  2. What are the factors behind their linguistics choice?
  3. What are the attitudes of Yoruba community towards Yoruba language, English language and other languages


1.5. Significance of the Study

The critical nature of language in any community cannot be over-emphasized, this is because language is a means of communication and expression of feelings. Empirically, this study is carried out to the factors affecting the choice of language in a multilingual societyso as to ameliorate the problems associated with the language system of Nigeria.When the native language is not maintained, important links to family and other community members may be lost.This study will be important to the society it will teach it the importance of linguistics and multilingualism.

It is hoped that the exploration of the society will provide a broad view of the operations of the language system to the society and the country at large. This study will be of benefit to;

The Academia: members of the academia will find the study relevant as it will also form basis for further research and a reference tool for academic works.

Government: this study will reveal to the government happenings in the communities. Formulation and implementation of policies based on this findings would ensure development and peace.

Investors: this study shall also be valuable to the investors especially those who may have research interest as it shall guide their private investment decisions.

This study at the end will enlighten communities on the implication of multilingualism.


1.6. Scope of the Study

This study is intended to investigate the factors affecting the choice of language in a multilingual society, using the Yoruba community of western Nigeria.


1.7. Operational Definition of Terms

The following terms have been defined operationally.

  • Multilingualism: It is” a phenomenon devoted to the study of production, processing, and comprehension of more than two languages, respectively”. (Bhatia, 1997). It is the ability of an individual speaker or a community to communicate effectively in three or more languages. However, operationally it refers to Yoruba community of Nigeria who can use two or more languages whether orally or in writing.
  • Language attitude: Sadanand (1993) maintains that “attitudes towards the use of different languages are motivated by people’s perception of the role of each language and the functions it performs in relation to each other”. It is the opinion, ideas and prejudice that speakers have with respect to a language. However, operationally attitudes refer to Yoruba people’s feelings towards their language and other languages.
  • Domains of language use: According to Fasold (1990) language domains are taken to be “constellations of factors such as location, topic and participants”. These domains can be family, home, friendship, education, employment, media, work, place of worship and the neighborhood.
  • Language choice: Bentahila (1983) defines language choice as “the ability any speaker of any language has and enables him/her to choose the appropriate language for any particular purpose”. When the speaker chooses what language to use in particular situation in bilingual or multilingual communities. The operational definition used in this study is the right of Yoruba people to choose and use specific language in specific situations or domains, especially Yoruba and English.
  • Language Contact:When two or more languages come into contact they either co-exist side by side, or the host language dominates mother tongue language.According to Thomason (2001) language contact is the use of several languages in the same place and at the same time, and this usage would cause language change in terms that one language may affect another.


1.8 Organization of the Study

This study is divided into five chapters. Chapter one is introduction which consists of the background to the study, statement of problem, research questions, research  hypotheses,  objectives  of  the study, the  significance  of  the  study,   the scope  and  limitations  of  the  study  and  finally the  organization of the study. Chapter two deals with the literature review which consists of the conceptual literature, theoretical literature, empirical literature, theoretical framework. Chapter three gives the research methodology including research design, population of study, sample size, sampling technique, method of data collection, instrument of data analysis, method of data analysis, validity/reliability of instrument.  Chapter four is presentation and analysis of data, discussion of findings. Chapter five gives the summary, conclusion and recommendations.



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Full Project – Factors affecting the choice of language in a multilingual society