A lecture delivered by dr. ‘Wale Adeniran, executive director, centre for black culture and international understanding (CBCIU), (a UNESCO –affiliated centre), behind state secretariat, Osogbo, Osun state, Nigeria, at the Yoruba day celebration in Stockholm , Sweden, on Saturday, May 23, 2015.
Today, many native speakers of the Yoruba language take the continued survival of their language for granted and hardly give any thought to what fate might befall it in the future. This nonchalant, not to say negative, attitude is especially prevalent among the elite who no longer speak the mother tongue to their children. Rather, they speak only English, the ex-colonial official language because of the benefits that attach to the ability to speak the foreign language. Since the elite are the role models whose behaviour is always aped and imitated by the others, Yoruba native speakers of the lower social classes have also formed the habit of speaking English to their children. The situation described above is true of the behaviour and attitude of Yoruba native speakers to their language in the Republic of Benin and Togo.
It is against this background that I consider it germane to ask if the Yoruba language will survive beyond the 21st century. In other words, one may ask: Is the Yoruba language endangered and likely to go into extinction? The unequivocal answer is yes!
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