Feature

Nigeria: Illiterate in all of our languages

Just 20 years ago, an educated Nigerian spoke four languages fluently.

Farooq KperogiSunday Trust

Young Nigerians can’t talk to anyone but each other, said Farooq Kperogi. Just 20 years ago, an educated Nigerian spoke four languages fluently: a native language, a regional language such as Hausa or Yoruba, Pidgin English, and standard English. No more. Our native languages are dying out. Some argue that’s because of a new emphasis on English, but if that’s the case it’s a rotten bargain, since our mastery of standard English is pitiful. I write a blog about language, and I recently found to my horror that many people come to my site by plugging the query “why do Nigerians write terrible English?” into a search engine. That’s evidence that Nigerians are using our Pidgin dialect to try—and largely fail—to communicate with other English speakers on the Web. “We are raising a generation of Nigerians whose first and only language is a deformed, ghettoized, and impoverished form of English that is incomprehensible to other members of the Anglophone world.” If we don’t launch a massive public education program, we will end up like Algeria, whose young people are famously “illiterate in three languages”—French, Arabic, and Berber—and speak an unintelligible mishmash of all three. Will Nigeria, too, have to write off a “lost generation”?

Recommended

Germany is a major wild card in Ukraine-Russia imbroglio
Olaf Scholz
Western Wrangling

Germany is a major wild card in Ukraine-Russia imbroglio

Could the threat of Ukrainian resistance deter Russia?
Vladimir Putin.
Picture of Noah MillmanNoah Millman

Could the threat of Ukrainian resistance deter Russia?

South Korean military says it appears North Korea tested cruise missiles
Kim Jong Un on a television screen.
it's only a test

South Korean military says it appears North Korea tested cruise missiles

Mexican journalist who said she feared for her life killed in Tijuana
The scene of Lourdes Maldonado López's murder.
horrible

Mexican journalist who said she feared for her life killed in Tijuana

Most Popular

Senate candidate J.D. Vance says 'our country's kind of a joke'
J.D. Vance
ba dum tssss

Senate candidate J.D. Vance says 'our country's kind of a joke'

Stephen Colbert's Late Show ropes Peppa Pig into Peloton's dead TV character mess
Peppa Pig
'Daddy Pig Gets a Peloton'

Stephen Colbert's Late Show ropes Peppa Pig into Peloton's dead TV character mess

Florida advances ban on making white people feel 'discomfort' over past racism
Ron DeSantis
Fragility

Florida advances ban on making white people feel 'discomfort' over past racism