A Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Department of English, University of Ilorin, Sola Babatunde, has canvassed for the promotion of a more functional literacy in as many indigenous languages as possible in checkmating apathy towards indigenous languages and culture among Nigerians.
Prof. Babatunde made this call while delivering the 215th Inaugural Lecture of the University of Ilorin, entitled “Dethroning Silence and Installing Meaning: The Burden of Applied Linguistics” at the institution’s Main Auditorium”
While acknowledging the primacy of English Language in socioeconomic and political development of Nigeria, Prof. Babatunde insisted that Nigerians must acquire proficiency in the use of local languages in addition to the English Language to broaden national development.
The don, who noted that the use of English Language is enthroning silence, particularly among secondary school students, insisted that language must be used to encourage one another and not used to hurt no matter the situation.
Prof. Babatunde explained that Nigeria has to be conscious of the need to adopt a progressive live-and-let-live attitude to national, family and individual language and hence the need to ensure that indigenous languages are used more profoundly across all the strata of the society in the interests of all.
He opined that English Language cannot function alone in handling the volume and varieties of communication challenges being confronted daily in a multilingual society like Nigeria and so more rooms should be given to our local dialects.
The Inaugural Lecturer, who emphasised the importance of persuasive communication in peace building and economic transformation, also revealed that “persuasive communication could be of help in the environment of dissuasive forces”, saying that “a range of semiotic features could appeal to the eyes and hearts of the audience” and change their perceptions through such a systematic persuasion.
While pointing out that training in every discipline should be interested in developing the human mind for creative imagination, the language expert suggested that education planners and administrators should always be mindful of the need to ensure that texts prescribed should be those that contain pictures that will “sensitise the readers to positive social action and not those that will promote perversion in the society”.
He also insisted that discourse analysis should always be in the mainstream of literary analysis so that students can easily perceive the necessary linguistic features that will enhance the effective understanding and appreciation of the writer’s intentions.
Prof. Babatunde also recommended the introduction of two other courses for undergraduate students that will lay more emphasis on speaking and writing skills. He added that his experiences over the years informed the submission that such programmes should be made available for students up to third year of studies as he noted that the innovation will help them when writing their degree essays in their final year.
The lecture, which was presided-over by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, was attended by dignitaries from far and near including relations, colleagues and students of the Inaugural Lecturer.