The languages of Rivers State of Nigeria: An overview
Kari, Ethelbert Emmanuel
PublisherUniversity of Botswana, www.ub.bw
Rights holderEthelbert Emmanuel Kari
MetadataShow full item record
This paper provides an updated overview of the languages of Rivers State of Nigeria in respect of the number, linguistic classification and features of the languages, as well as the distribution of the languages across the 23 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state. This is because the existing overviews contain little or no data on the linguistic features of the languages. It notes that Rivers State is a multilingual state in which 28 native or indigenous languages are spoken, and that the languages fall into two major sub-families (Benue-Congo and Ijoid) within the Niger-Congo phylum. With relevant data, the paper highlights and illustrates some of the interesting linguistic characteristics of the languages, which include advanced tongue root vowel harmony, noun classification via noun prefixes and noun classifiers, inclusive-exclusive distinction in personal pronouns, sex gender, verbal extensions, serial verb constructions and subject and/or object agreement marking. Furthermore, the paper considers the distribution of Rivers State languages and notes that the languages are not evenly distributed across the LGAs, and that many indigenous people of the state are bilingual or multilingual in the languages of the state. Finally, the paper notes that despite the enabling national and state policies and laws favouring mother-tongue education, Rivers State languages have not actively been used at the levels stipulated by the policies and laws. It recommends the enforcement and implementation of existing laws and policies so that the indigenous languages of the state are used at the levels stipulated by the National Policy on Education for the benefit of the citizens, state and country.