The Linguistic Association of Nigeria (LAN) said unless proactive steps were taken, more than 50 minority languages in the country might become extinct in a few years.
President of the association, Prof. Chinyere Ohiri-Aniche, disclosed this in Jos on Tuesday at the ongoing five-day annual conference of LAN holding at University of Jos.
Ohiri-Aniche, who was represented by Prof. Harrison Adeniye, spoke of the urgent need to revive moribund minority languages because of their importance to the cultural good of the country.
He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to “reawaken” the national language policy to prevent the minority languages from going extinct.
“Let me use this opportunity to advise the Federal Government on the need to reawaken the national language policy project which is moribund already.
“There is also an urgent need to establish language centers to prevent possible extinction of most minority languages in the country,” he said.
The LAN president stated that the establishment of the centres to teach local languages will help revive some languages already extinct.
“We would like to use this opportunity to remind you, sir of the promise made on behalf of the university to establish the centre for minority languages in your institution.
“We know this centre when established will go a long way in documenting and revitalizing well over fifty languages, most of which are moribund,” he said.
He urged parents to always speak to their children in their local dialects to enable them to speak in the tongues.
Also speaking, the Vice Chancellor, University of Jos, Prof. Sebastian Maimako, charged the association to revive moribund Nigeria minority languages.
Maimako, who was represented by the Dean, Faculty of Arts, Prof. Tor Iorapuu, said the use of local parlance among Nigerians had decreased.
According to him, linguists have what it takes to address the “unfortunate” situation of language and cultural decline in the country.
He said, “I enjoin you as teachers, scholars and professional researchers in the academic discipline of linguistics as well as in other related areas of language studies to deliberate and fashion out viable means of readdressing the inadequacies relating to the documentation and revitalisation of minority languages in Nigeria.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 29th LAN national conference attracted participants from tertiary institutions across the country in a bid to find sustainable ways to prevent minority languages from dying.