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This research work focuses on the Effect of Language Diversity on National Development. It adopts descriptive and comparative approaches in analyzing the nature of Language and the policy situation in Nigeria, considering in clear terms the complex ethno linguistics setting. Sequel to the look warm attitudes of both governments over the years, the research therefore evaluates the value of an effective language policy and implementation to the development of nations across the globe.On the foregoing, the research identifies the low level of technology and science development in Nigeria as a product of purposelessness approaches in language policy making and implementation. The study observes that, little or no functional language policy exists in Nigeria even at the age of 50 years of independence.Recourse to this, Nigerian languages ought to be central to national development and should occupy an important place in the development discourse. In line with these and many more, the study recommends that urgent attention and responsibilities ought to be given to language experts (linguists) in making language policies and possible implementation strategies for the country. This research further advocates for a national language system, however, calls for the adoption of respective indigenous languages for vocational training at their given speech communities. The Nigerian Pidgin English has the likely majority of speakers and need to be developed to the status of a national language alongside English. These positions can only be achieved if our central policy maker (government) is sincere with the reality on ground and avoid mere political interest and propaganda.


Title page-       –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           i

Declaration      –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           ii

Certification –  –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           iii

Dedication-     –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           iv

Acknowledgment-      –           –           –           –           –           –           –           v

Abstract-         –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           vi

Table of content –        –           –           –           –           –           –           –           vii-viii


1.1       background of the study –      –           –           –           –           –           1

1.2       Statement of the problem       –           –           –           –           –           2

1.3       Hypothesis      –           –           –           –           –           –           –           2

1.4       Aims of the Study      –           –           –           –           –           –           2

1.5       Scope and Delimitation of the study  –           –           –           –           3

1.6       Significance of the Study       –           –           –           –           –           3

1.7       Methodology of the Study     –           –           –           –           –           3



2.1       Introduction    –           –           –           –           –           –           –           4-5

2.2       Meaning of Language –           –           –           –           –           –           5-8

2.3       Characteristics of Language   –           –           –           –           –           8

2.3.1    Language is a system of speech sound           –           –           –           8

2.3.2    It is acquired from childhood             –           –           –           –           –           8

2.3.3    Language is dynamic  –           –           –           –           –           –           9

2.3.4    It is conventional        –           –           –           –           –           –           9

2.3.5    it is complex and systematic   –           –           –           –           –           9-10

2.4       Multilingualism (Language Diversity)            –           –           –           10-13

2.4.1    Plurality (Origin)         –           –           –           –           –           –           14-15

2.5       Strengths and Weaknesses of Language Diversity   –                        –           15-16

2.6       National Development –(Different View)      –           –           –           16-18

2.7       National Language     –           –           –           –           –           –           18-21

2.8       Theoretical frame Work          –           –           –           –           –           21-23


3.0       Introduction    –           –           –           –           –           –           –           24

3.1       Methodology –           –           –           –           –           –           –           24-25

3.2       Data Analysis –           –           –           –           –           –           –           25-27

3.3       Research findings       –           –           –           –           –           –           27-28

3.4       Strength of findings    –           –           –           –           –           –           28

3.5       Weakness of findings.            –           –           –           –           –           28


4.1       Summary         –           –           –           –           –           –           –           29

4.2       Conclusion      –           –           –           –           –           –           –           29

4.3       Recommendation        –           –           –           –           –           –           30-31

WORK CITED         –           –           –           –           –           –           –           32-34

APPENDIX   –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           35



Human Beings are social animals and language is an instrument of the society which is acculturated into a given society. Through the instrumentality of language, man identifies and make finding about his environment.

Thus, language, in the hand of man preserves, conserves, transmits and appropriates functions and does so across space and time, thereby enabling him to overcome those physical limitations to human endeavours and achievements.

Armed with his linguistic tool, man appropriates all that others before him have acquired, persuades and convince others to his line of reasoning and action, deceives and dominates others, controls his entire environment and exploits whatever is found therein, and also achieves as much as it is within his capacity.

The problems of man’s development and growth become increasingly complex and intricate when the individual is not monolingual and mono-cultural. The failure of any development programme becomes greater and more dismal when the individual has got to operate within a multilingual and multi-cultural community. It is these problems which Nigeria encounters as a result of her multilingual and multi-cultural composition that this research intends to highlight. At the end of the exercise solutions will be proffered in order to help solve the challenges we have as country.


Inspite of all efforts to unite and develop society such as Nigeria politically, economically and socially, the state remains an under developed state. This is due to her multilingual and multicultural nature. Language pluralism has generated a lot of problems in the state. Prominent among them include;

The communication gap between the various people, each sees his own language as important, thus creating an impediment to commerce and industry. A warped sense of nationhood whereby genuine unity becomes difficult due to suspicion as various ethnic groups pursue selfish and sectional interests. Picking a national language that is acceptable to the people therefore, becomes difficult.

1.2       HYPOTHESIS

The hypotheses of study are

(a)     Language is a hindrance to national unity

(b)        Language is an instrument for National development

(c)        How is language diversity a deciding factor toward national development?


The aim of the research is to discover the effect of linguistic plurality in a given multi-ethnic society like Nigeria, particularly in Nasarawa State where I live and the University of Abuja where I school. It  also intends to prove the success or failure of any society. And if language diversity has helped in national growth and development, such as economic, social, political, religious growth, and educational advancement of mankind. The study also hopes to attempt in resolving the issue of “lingua Franca”


The scope of the research is on the use of language to achieve national development especially in a multilingual environment which is delimited to the sociolinguistics of language and society.


The importance of this study is that it will showcase how to promote ethnic harmony among all linguistically and ethnically diverse communities in Nigeria. The study is also significant because it will contribute to many of the existing works in this regard especially for both academic and social utilization respectively. It is also significant because it will provide the picture of the issue in question from the perspective of a university community.


The methodology of the research is empirical in nature, in which the researcher intends to administer questionnaire as well as an observation within the chosen area of the study being University of Abuja, FCT

The respondents to be administered with the questionnaire are selected through single random selection method of one out of every ten respondents in the delimited areas of the research.




The inadequate level of attention that has often been given to the language situation in Nigeria tends to reflect on the level of general development. Nigeria is one of the countries with the largest number of indigenous languages. This situation should be seen as blessings rather than a curse. Contrary to this expectation, countries of this nature has rather turned into ethnic and religious struggles.

Considering the multilingual and cultural differences, the issue, of adopting an indigenous national language in Nigeria is described as complex in reality. The relevance of language to development of any society cannot be over emphasized.Development cannot be achieved in any society unless the linguistics reality of such a society is put into play.

It is evident that different languages in Nigeria coexisted in peace before the advent of the colonial masters which brought together the diverse socio-cultural, backgrounds into one fold through the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914. This act resulted into the imposition of English language as an official language in Nigeria Adenipekun, (2010).

In reality, there are two possible reasons that neglect language issues. The first reason is that development is often conceived of in a rather narrow turn to the calculation of the Gross Domestic Product and Gross National Product and other economics metrics of income.

The consequence of this quantitative approach to development are that economic indicators are often erroneously equated with national development and societal well-being. In this narrow sense, the role of language in national development may rather be seen as a bit too marginal to be taken into reality.

The second challenge is why the language issue has not featured well in Nigeria’s development discourse. This is as a result of the nature and role of language in the society which is often completely misunderstood. Probably, it may be from the irresponsible declarations of some Nigeria writers and intellectuals. However, Nigerian languages can be used for effective expressions, irrespective of the diverse cultural situation.

Contesting all these positions and challenges, this chapter therefore reviews the concept of “Multilingualism” and other concepts relevant to the topic of the research. It covers; Meaning of Language, Characteristics of Language, Strengths and Weakness of Language Diversity, National Development, National Language and Theoretical Framework.


Language is considered to be a system of communicating with people using sounds, symbols and words in expressing a meaning, idea or thought. Language can be used in many forms, primarily through oral and written communications as well as using expressions through body language.Many animals and even plant species communicate with each other. Humans are not unique in this capability.

Language is the means by which man communicates his thoughts and ideas. It is man’s most efficient means of communication it is central and most integral to humanity and as Adegbiji  Adesoji (1989) puts it, … “lt is the skin in which aspirations are couched, the skin of thought and the flesh of the mind.” (3) That means language as we can see, is a double edged sword capable of keeping a people together as well as tearing them apart.Language is therefore both a uniting and disuniting force.

According to Bloch Bernard and Trager George (1942) “Language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates’ this definition stresses the unifying function in the society. (5)

To William Labov (1968), language is the institution whereby humans communicate and interact with another by means of habitually oral auditory symbols. (158)Sapir cited in David (2008)

Language is purely human and non-instructive method of communicating ideas, emotions and thoughts by the means of the system of voluntarily produced symbols. (4)

That is, everyday use of language involves several different senses. At its most specific level, it may refer to the concrete act of speaking emotional and thought in a given situation language, however, is a distinctively human system of communication, based on oral and written symbols. It is a Pan-human development a behavoural aspect of human beings which serves as a point of differentiation from animals.

Sweet, cited in Obisakin, (1993) describes language as the expression of ideas by means of speech sounds combined into words. Words are combined into sentences. This combination answering to that of ideas into thought. (17)

Aristotle, cited in Obisakin (1993)

Language is the universal code of

communication that fosters exchange

and expression of thoughts feelings and

 ideas among humans (17)

On his part, Obisakin, (1993) defines language as a mode of expression, a manner of expressing thought or feeling which make communication possible (18)

Harold (1981) sees language as the medium through which thoughts are conveyed from one person to another.

Trudgill Peter (1974) argues that:

Language is not simply a means of communicating information about the weather or any other subject It is also very important means of establishing and maintaining relationships between other people (Pp16)

Atchison cited in Yusuf (2006) describes language as

a patterned system of arbitrary sound symbols, whose characteristic features of displacement,            cultural transmission, productivity and duality are rare or absent in animal communication (106)

Although, language is a means of communication yet it is not secondary to It but equally important, Kenneth Kaye, an American paediatrician views language as a vital tool for communication.

Language does not exist merely for the sake

of naming things. Nor does it exist for the sake of propositions about the world it consists of interpersonal communication about shared and sharable intentions

Communication, which is a social need, an economic requirement and a political necessity, is partly achieved through language It may be difficult to precisely communicate ideas without a vocal language, as it may be difficult to achieve development without communication. Hence language is the basis instrument for any recordable development


By characteristic of language we mean the peculiar features or properties by which language can be identified, and how language is seen as away or a medium of communication, Harold (1981) clarified the characteristics of language as follows

2.3.1    Language is a System of Speech Sound

Language is primarily a speech act. One of the basic features of all human language is vocalization that is, production of meaningful organized “noise” or sound verbalization or talking is therefore a feature of all human language. In fact, language can even be seen as “the speech of man” different from other systems of communications.

2.3.2    It is Acquired from Childhood

Another important characteristic of every human language is that it is acquired as the child grows from childhood to adulthood. It is an acquired behaviour from generation to generation, in other word, language behaviours has to be acquired, although researches have proved that humans are born with innate ability to learn any language without being taught. The belief is that nobody is born with the ability to speak a particular language. For example, no child has the ability from birth to learn Hausa language.

2.3.3    Language is Dynamic

Like all other aspects of human culture, language is subject to change. Our material culture like tools, utensils, cloths, does change with time. The non-materials aspects like language will also vary from one generation to another. Change should be seen therefore as a general attributes of all language In other words, all languages are creative and open ended New words come into being and some die out Thus language indeed is dynamic, this change is sometimes fast or slow, radical or superficial but it goes on all the time.

2.3.4. It is Conventional