From Linguistic Repression to Revitalization: The Igbo Language Case

Chinweude Nwakaego Ugochukwu


Language endangerment is presently one of the humanity’s greatest cultural challenges, posing enormous scientific and humanist problems. Many indigenous languages have become endangered due to linguistic repression caused by colonization, in which the original language is replaced by that of the colonist. It is sad to note that after a long time of gaining independence from the colonial masters, most indigenous languages are still being repressed by the owners of the language themselves. An increasing number of communities are giving up their language by their own choice. Many believe that their children will not acquire a professional qualification if they teach them tribal languages. This paper examines the level of post-colonial repression bedeviling indigenous languages using Igbo language as case study. The work suggests practical steps to the revitalization of the Igbo language. The paper also calls for more spirited efforts in saving the Igbo language not only as a special gift from God, but most importantly as part of our country’s natural resources which could be consumed locally or exported to other countries.


Colonization, Indigenous Language Repression, Igbo Language Case, Revitalization

Full Text:



Campbell, L. (1994). “Language death”. In R.E. Asher & J.M.Y. Simpson (ed). The encyclopedia of language and linguistics, vol 4. 1960-1968. Oxford: Pergamon.

Cantoni,N. Robert, St. Clair, & E.P. Yazzie (ED). Revitalizing indigenous languages. (pp.v-xx). Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University.

Colls, T. (2009). “The Death of language” in BBC-Today. Retrieved September 22, 2013 from

Fischer, S.R. (1995). A history of language. Netherlands: Reaktion.

Krauss, M. (1992b). “Statement of Mr. Michael Krauss, representing the Linguistic Society of America”. In Senate, U.S Native America Languages Act of 1991: Hearing before the select committee on Indian affairs. (pp.18-22). Washington, DC: U.S. Government.

Muogilim, E.S. (1995). “Chief Dr. Frederick Chidozie Ogbalu 1927-1990: “A bio- bibliography” in A.E. Afigbo (ED) F.C. Ogbalu and the Igbo language. Onitsha: University.

Nwadike, I.U. (2000). Igbo language in education: An historical study. Obosi: Pacific.

Obafemi, O. (2012). “On language and national development/integration”. (September 13, 2013). Retrieved from http://weeklytrust.comng/index.php/opinon/10819-on-language- and-national-developmentintegration-1.

Ostler, R. (2000). “Disappearing languages” in whole earth catalog. (September 14, 2013). Retrieved from /article/138/disappearinglanguages..

Philipson, R. (1994). “English language spread policy”. International journal of the sociology of language. 107, 7-24.

Reyhner, J. (1999). “Some basics of indigenous language revitalization” in J. Reyhner, G.

Sapir, E. (1931). “Conceptual categories in primitive languages”. Science, 74, 578. Skutnabb- Kangas, T. (2000).“Linguistic genocide in education or worldwide diversity and human rights?” Mahawah: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Tsunda, T. (2005). Language endangerment and language revitalization. Berlin: Mounton De Gruyter.

Uzoezie, R.U. (2011). Nigerian English and literature selected essays. Awka: Fab Anieh.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research