Influence of Choice of Language of Communication in Inter-Ethnic Marriage Families on the Survival of Minority Languages in Nigeria

Christopher Ifeakachukwu Ochonogor and Konye Cynthia Ikems
Keywords: Communication, Inter-Ethnic Marriage, Language Acquisition, Language Survival Minority Languages
Tropical Journal of Education 2019 1(1/2), 45-59. Published: March 4, 2020


The survival of any language lies in its acquisition and usage by the younger generation. However, inter-ethnic marriages among the many ethnic groups in Nigeria have adversely affected the use of the indigenous languages, especially the minority languages. The consequence is that in most inter-ethnic marriage homes, couples adopt the English Language or the Nigerian Pidgin language for their communication purposes. The offspring of such relationship acquire the language used in their homes as their first language, thus becoming their mother tongue, thereby, relegating the languages of both parents. This study was undertaken to examine the effect of inter-ethnic marriages on the survival of minority languages in Nigeria. The study adopted the survey research method, using a set of questionnaire and focused group discussion to generate data from 384 respondents purposefully chosen from inter-marriage homes drawn from the six South-South States in Nigeria. The result of the study showed that many inter-ethnic marriage homes cared less about the survival of their native languages as they preferred and encouraged their children to master the English Language which is the language of taught (teaching) in schools. The study recommended that parents should encourage their children to learn one of the languages of the parents and that government should encourage the publication of books in minority languages to ensure their survival.