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LANGUAGE ENDANGERMENT AND THE SURVIVAL OF TYAP: IMPLICATIONS FOR TRANSITIONAL BILINGUAL EDUCATION
This study, entitled, “Language Endangerment and the Survival of Tyap: Implications for Transitional Bilingual Education” examined the phenomenon of language endangerment as it affects Tyap language. The study was triggered by concerns expressed by stakeholders in Tyap-land at a recent seminar that Tyap could be an endangered language. The study, therefore, set out to find out if Tyap was endangered, how such endangerment could affect the survival of the language, and the implications of such a development on bilingual education. To achieve the purpose of the study, research questions were formulated to establish whether Tyap is endangered or not, the variables responsible for the endangerment, which of the variables has the greatest impact in the endangerment of Tyap and the implications of the endangerment of Tyap for bilingual education. In pursuit of the objectives of the study, questionnaire and informal interview were used for data collection. The data collected were analysed using descriptive statistics of frequencies for biodata variables and the mean standard deviation and standard errors including cumulative mean to answer the research questions. The Pearson Product Moment Correlation (PPMC) statistics was used to test the research hypotheses at 0.5 alpha level of significance to determine the relationship of the independent variable with the dependent variable (survival/endangerment of Tyap language). The findings of the study showed that Tyap is endangered and that Hausa language and the non-transmission of Tyap by the older generation of Atyap to the younger generation largely accounted for the endangerment of Tyap. The study recommended, among other measures, that the Atyap Community Development Association (ACDA) should set up a committee to create awareness on the need for Atyap to rise up and save their language and another to work towards establishing vacation schools where older adults would provide pre-school child care where Tyap children could be immersed in the language. To achieve this end, a curriculum has been developed for the teaching of Tyap to young and adult Atyap. The study concluded that the fate of Tyap language lies in the hands of Atyap and urged them to rise up to the occasion and salvage their language.
1.1 Background of the Study
The topic of this study is “Language Endangerment and the survival of
TyapLanguage: Implications for Transitional BilingualEducation”. The choice of the topic is borne out of the desire to investigate the language endangerment phenomenon as it relates to Tyap, a minority language in ZangonKataf Local Government area of Kaduna state and to create awareness on the findings with a view to triggering action by Atyap on the seeming endangerment of the language.
The ancestral home of Tyap native speakers is ZangonKataf Local Government Area of Kaduna state. Tyap is one of the larger minority languages of Southern Kaduna Senatorial Zone coming after Jju which incidentally is intelligible to Tyap native speakers. The 2006 population census puts the population of Atyap at 104,543.
This study has become necessary at this point in time because of growing concerns expressed by Atyap elite, cultural associations and parents that Tyap language might be endangered. Regrettably, these concerns have not been matched with action towards arresting the situation. It is for this reason that the researcher has embarked on the study to establish the veracity of the claims that Tyap might be endangered with a view to proffering solutions if the claims are confirmed to be true.
The concerns of this study are to adduce evidence that Tyap is endangered, if indeed it is, identify the variables in theendangerment of Tyap, determine the variable that has the greatest impact in the endangerment of Tyap and bring out the implications of such endangerment (if any) on transitional bilingual education. The study would then
proffer solutions which if faithfully implemented, would remove the language from the endangerment zone.
The variables in the topic of the study are ; Language endangerment, survival of Tyap and transitional bilingualeducation.Wurn (1998) sees an endangered language as one that is at the risk of falling out of use because it has only a few surviving speakers.
A language is considered to be endangered when it is no longer being transmitted to the younger generation. An endangered language is also one that is under threat of survival by a more dominant language or languages. This results in a shift by the native speakers of the endangered language to the dominant language or languages which Webb and Sure (2001) describe as a process in which speakers of one language begin to use a second language for more and more functions until they eventually use only the second language. In the case of Tyap, it is being speculated that Atyap are abandoning their language for dominant languages such as Hausa and English.
Arzeona (2006) states that language is a very big part of culture and cultural identity and that if a generation decides not to pass its language to its children, the consequence is the extinction of that language.
The survival of a language is a situation where a language continues to exist rather than die. When a language is endangered and nothing is done to revive it, it dies as soon as the last speaker alive is dead.
Transitional Bilingual Educationis a provision in the language component of the National Policy of Education that teaching in the early years of primary education should be in the child‟s mother tongue or the language of the immediate environment until such a time that the child can benefit from education through the English language medium
under the policy, the mother tongue is to play a transitional role for English to take over from the upper primary school to the highest level of education.
The rapid endangerment of many languages across the world is a matter of widespread concern, not only among linguists but also among all those concerned with issues of cultural identity. Language experts like Crystal (2000) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization-UNESCO (2003) have asserted that nearly half of the world‟s about 6000 languages are under threat of endangerment and that many of them might go into extinction by the end of the century if nothing is done to salvage them. In Africa, many conferences have been held to address language endangerment in the continent and other linguistic issues. Among these conferences were:
- Conference of African languages held in Accra, Ghana in 1975.
- Meeting of language experts in Africa held in Conakry, Guinea in 1981.
- Inter-governmental conference on language policies in Africa in Harare, Zimbabwe on 30th march, 1997.
- Meeting of language experts in Africa in Addis-ababa, Ethiopia in 1995.
At these conferences, the safe-guarding of African languages, their development and the preservation of African cultures were the focal points of discussion.
The inspiration for this study is also derived from the personal experience of the
researcher whose two of his four children are semi-speakers of Tyap (not proficient) while the other two are near illiterates in the language. This trend is visible in many families of Atyap.
1.3 Statement of the Problem
An endangered language is one that is at the risk of falling out of use as its speakers die out or shift to speaking another language. Language endangerment is a seriuos concern to which linguists and educational planners have turned their attention in the last few decades because of the dire consequences that go with the phenomenon. The consequences include loss of pride and self-identity of its former speakers, culture and of knowledge.
Of late, there has been an increasing outcry by concerned Atyap that the language is registering fewer and fewer speakers. This, they claim, is evident in the inability of many Atyap youth and even adults to express themselves fluently in the language during village and town meetings of Atyap where the language is the chief means of communication. Many speakers at such fora speak a mixture of Tyap and Hausa with Hausa seeming to dominate. Others speak a mixture of Tyap and English with English seeming to dominate. Related to language endangerment is the state of Bilingual Education in Nigeria whose operation in Nigeria rather than develop minority languages like Tyap seems to be stifling them thus posing an endangerment concern. Oladejo (1991) sees a bilingual as a person who can use at least two languages comfortably with varying degrees of competence. Bilingual Education, on the other hand, is the use of two languages as media of instruction for a child or group of children in part or all of the school subjects.
The National Policy on Education (2004) provides for Transitional BilingualEducation in Nigeria when it states that at the primary level of education, the mother tongue or the language of the immediate environment would initially be the
medium of instruction and at a later stage, English would take over as a medium of instruction.
Tyap language is presently not benefiting from this aspect of the policy and this poses an endangerment concern to the language because it limits the exposure of Tyap children to their language. It is worthy of note that these policy statements have been bedeviled by some challenges. For instance, the orthographies of many Nigerian languages are not standardized and so do not have any written orthography. Thus, these languages cannot be taught or tested. If this is confirmed to be true of Tyap language it would be an endangerment concern to Tyap. This is a possible variable that can lead to the endangerment of Tyap.
Furthermore, there is no sound programme for preparing stable bilingual teachers for the policy to enhance the transitional bilingual education programme. Again the situation is not helped by government‟s apparent selective support for the development of Nigerian languages which tends to favour the major languages of Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. The above scenario, therefore, provides a fertile ground for the endangerment of Tyap because bilingual education cannot take place successfully in Tyapland without adequate number of trained teachers and government support for the development of Tyap orthography and literature.
The foregoing suggests that there is no certainty as to whether Tyap is endangered or not as available information on this is still at the speculative level. Thus, this study is set to investigate the danger to the survival of Tyap language and the implication of these on Transitional Bilingual Education in Tyap
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The objectives of the study include the need to:
1) find out whether Tyap is an endangered language;
2) examine the variables leading to the endangerment of Tyap language;
3) determine which of the variables has the greatest impact on the endangerment of Tyap language; and
4) identify the implications of the endangerment of Tyap language on Transitional Bilingual Education.
1.4 Research Questions
This research work was set to find answers to the following questions:
1) What is the evidence that Tyap is an endangered language?
2) What are the variables leading to the endangerment of Tyap language?
3) Which of the variables has the greatest impact on the endangerment of Tyap language?
4) What are the implications ofthe endangerment of Tyap language on Transitional Bilingual Education?
For the purpose of this study, the following hypotheses have been formulated.
1) There is no significant relationship between evidence that Tyap language is endangered and the survival of the language.
2) There is no significant relationship between the variables leading to language endangerment and the survival of Tyap language.
3) There is no significant relationship between the variable that has the greatest impact on the endangerment of Tyap language and the survival of the language.
4) There is no significant relationship between Transitional Bilingual Education in Tyap language and the endangerment of the language.
1.6 Justification for the Study
This study has become necessary for the following reasons :
1) The incessant outcry by Atyap that the native speakers of Tyap language are abandoning the language without corresponding action to reverse the situation.
2) The need to arouse the consciousness of Atyap and government at all levels on the possibility of Tyap being endangered and to take pre-emptive measures to prevent its occurence.
3) The need to change the mindset of the average Atyotyap that nothing can be done to avert a possible endangerment of Tyap language.
4) The need to come up with concrete steps to be taken if it is confirmed that Tyap is endangered and to mobilize Atyap to take those steps.
5) The need to avert the possible loss of the culture, group identity, unity and history of Atyap.
6) The need to develop and preserve the language for learning purposes as studies by Fafunwa (1970) and Aladejena and Alao (1993), among others, have proved that instruction in the mother tongue is more effective in promoting literacy and functional education of the child than in foreign language.
1.9 Significance of the Study
The findings of the study are expected to create awareness and thereby propel native speakers of Tyap language to take steps to conserve their language and cultural identity. This could be achieved through a wide circulation of the findings of the study in book and other forms and the dissemination of the findings of the study at strategic gatherings of Atyap native speakers.
Furthermore, the study is likely to serve as a clarion call on archivists, anthropologists and linguists to engage seriously in the documentation of endangered minority languages. This would be achieved by giving wide publicity to the findings of the study.
Finally, the study may serve as a basis for future research on the subject since the circulation of its findings is likely to generate interest among linguists and anthropologists. This is likely to spur further research on the topic of the study.
1.10 Scope of the Study
The variables of the study are language endangerment, the survival of Tyap language and the implications for transitional bilingual education.The scope of the study shall be limited to Tyap native speakers in ZangonKataf, Kaduna South and SabonGari Local Government Areas of Kaduna state. This is in order to facilitate an investigation into the rural and urban dimensions of the endangerment of Tyap language and accommodate divergent opinions from respondents in the different settings.
The instruments for data collection would be questionnaire and informal interview. Questionnaire is preferred because the sample size is large and factual information is required with relative degree of accuracy, confidentiality and uniformity.
Informal interview was chosen because of its usefulness in collecting data from children and illiterates. Furthermore, it was chosen because of the certainty of getting actual responses and the clarification of unclear responses from the interviewee. Again this instrument was chosen because it has been found to be very useful for obtaining information on human behavioural characteristics and first hand information.
1.11 Summary of the Chapter
This chapter gives background information on the study and states the problems that made it necessary. It formulates the objectives, the research questions and the hypotheses of the study. Finally, the chapter highlights the scope, significance, delimitation and justification for the study.