The work looks into the factors
affecting language choice in a multilingual society, from a sociolinguistic
point of view. This study brings to
light a number of what affect individuals language choice.
This work comprises of four
chapters. The first chapter talks about
the introduction, the second chapter is the literature review, the third one
deals with data presentation and analysis, lastly, the fourth chapter discusses
the findings, recommendations and conclusion.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title page i
Table of Contents vi
Background to the Study 1
1.1 Statement of Problem 10
Research Questions 10
Purpose of Study 11
Significance of the Study 11
Limitation of Study 12
2.0 REVIEW OF LITERATURE 13
2.1 Causes of Multilingualism 21
Language choice 24
Determinants of Language choice. 26
3.0 DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS 34
4.0 Findings 57
BACKGROUND TO THE
cultures have stories which seek to explain the origin of life and to explain
why things are as they are in the world today.
The story from Genesis would have us believe that linguistic diversity
is the curse of Babel (Genesis 11:1-11).
whole earth was of one language, and of one speech… And they said to one another… Let us build us
a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name,
lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the Lord came down to see the city and
the tower, which the children of men builded.
And the Lord said, behold, the people is one, and they have all one
language,… Let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not
understand one another’s speech. So, the
Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they
left off to build the city. Therefore,
is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the
language of all the earth.
primordial time, people spoke the same language. God, however, decided to punish them for
their presumptuousness in erecting the tower by making them speak different
languages. Thus, multilingualism became
an obstacle to further co-operation and placed limits on human worldly
communities in the world are multilingual.
In these communities, there is more than one language that plays an
important role, and many or all of the individuals in such communities are at
least bilingual. Here, the context you
find yourself determines the kind of language you use.
talk of language choice in any country, one bears in mind the multilingual
societies. In monolingual countries,
there is no worry about choice of language to use, they only have to use the
language available to them.
the most obvious problems associated with newly formed multilingual
communities, for example, in countries such as Australia and Canada which have
seen considerable immigration from different parts of the world, is that of
Sociolinguistic research has made it clear that to communicate
successfully in a language other than
your own, it is not enough to learn the phonology, grammar and vocabulary of
that language. You also have to learn
how to use it appropriately in particular social situations according to the
norms employed and accepted by its native speakers.
multilingual speakers are people with a strong interest in a foreign language,
people who find it necessary to acquire second or third language for practical
purposes, such as business, information gathering or entertainment.
speakers outnumber monolingual speakers in the world’s population. In a multilingual society, not all speakers
need to be multilingual. When all
speakers are multilingual, linguists classify the community according to the
functional distribution of the languages involved.
researcher observed that before an individual thinks of language choice, there
must be some motivational factors.
Motivation and investment in this process, by the individual, will
depend on the value attached to prospective gains accompanying proficiency in
the relevant language. He also observed
that language choice is affected by utilitarian considerations. A speaker may feel that the use of a
particular language will place him in an advantageous position either within a
group or within a wider social context.
If his antagonists in a discussion or argument are less fluent than he
is, this will clearly serve to give him a valuable edge. The perceived advantage does not have to be
in relation to other individuals. It may
be for purely personal considerations that a person chooses to speak a
particular language. A student of a foreign
language may prefer to use that language whenever possible, with the sole
intention of improving his ability.
an additional language, second, third or fourth, will be greatly affected by
the social, political and economic environment within which the acquisition
process takes place. Learners of
additional languages are either born into or transferred to (as a result of
migration) a multilingual context. Those
born into such a situation usually accept the need for multilingualism as a
natural phenomenon and hence can easily see the importance and the gains of
achieving a high level of proficiency in the various relevant languages. Those transferred to a multilingual context
as a result of immigration, have some difficult choices to make:
Maintenance of the heritage language in order to preserve the culture
and ethnic identity.
Acquisition of the new national language in order to gain equitable
access to the new country’s resources.
Acquisition of a language of wider communication, such as English for
academic and professional purposes.
Finally, acquisition of another local language, which is needed for
interaction with neighbours or fellow workers at the workplace. In this kind of situation, language choices
may require certain “prices” to be paid by the learner.
Communication is only possible if both speakers share the same language,
and there is little to gain from addressing someone in a language which
they do not understand. There is an
almost universal taboo upon the use of a language which might exclude one or
more members of a group from a discussion, even if the subject of that
discussion has no direct relevance to that person or persons. For example, a group of Igbo speakers may be
discussing plans for a farewell party for one of their work-mates who is about
to retire. Another person, one who does
not work at the same company, who does not know the gentleman in question, and
who will not be invited to the party, joins the group. This new comer, moreover, does not speak
Igbo. It is now incumbent upon the group
to continue their discussion in a language which that person can
understand. Having to change the
language of the discussion to one which may be a second or third language for a
majority of the members can, of course, have a stultifying effect upon the
course of the discussion, making it more difficult to express thoughts and
ideas. In this case, however, the
exclusion constraint takes precedence over the language preference of the group
majority. In extreme cases, the requirement
for a common language might force all of the speakers to adopt second or third
languages. The search for a common
language may sometimes prove unsuccessful, and a group will have to choose the
language which allows participation of the greatest number of people.
of this research work is on those factors that affect language choice in a
multilingual community or society.
observation and study have shown that there are many things that make people to
think of language choice.
questions have been posed to guide this study:
the problems facing individuals when trying to make language choice in a
we mean by language choice?
the factors that affect language choice?
extent do these factors affect language choice?
PURPOSE OF STUDY
The purpose of this
research work is to identify those things that affect people’s language choice
in a multilingual society. To examine the problems individuals encounter when
trying to choose a particular language.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The importance of
this study is to reveal those factors that affects language choice in a
multilingual society or setting.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
research work is limited to a multilingual society. It is restricted to factors that affect
language choice in this kind of society mentioned above. The constraints associated with time shall not
allow the researcher to stretch his hands to evaluate all the factors.