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Scholars have decried either under-utilization or non-use of indigenous languages in the broadcast media which have the institutional power to use and promote indigenous languages within their environments of operation. Similarly, the audiences, specifically, the youths, for whom broadcast in indigenous languages are meant have been identified as showing negative attitude towards the use of indigenous languages in the broadcast media. This project, therefore, examined the attitudes of the broadcast media and youths towards indigenous languages in use on Edo Broadcasting Service radio and television.

Survey was adopted as the research method for the study. In order to find out the attitudes of youths and the media towards the use of indigenous languages in the state broadcast media, interview, document observation and questionnaire were used to elicit data. 864 copies of the questionnaire were distributed to youths across the state while six indigenous language presenters and producers were interviewed. The radio and television programme schedules were studied to elicit the languages in use on Edo Broadcasting Service.

The data collected were analyzed with the instrument of SPSS. The findings show that Edo State Broadcasting Service shows a positive attitude towards the use and promotion of seven Edo state indigenous languages in different indigenous programmes thereby reflecting the multilingual nature of their environments of operation. Similarly, Edo state youths support the use of indigenous languages through listening to and watching indigenous language programmes on EBS radio and television respectively. The results show that music and news are the most patronized programmes among the indigenous programmes by youths.

However, there is the need for broadcast media to allocate more airtime to indigenous language programmes and equally reduce the high content of foreign language programmes to which youths are exposed, while NBC need to monitor the extent of compliance to the 100% local content specification in broadcast media because of the enormous advantages of respect for local content use and promotion as well as the use of indigenous languages in the domain of broadcast media.



The broadcast media have been considered an important public domain in the use, promotion and maintenance of language in line with the sociolinguistic nature and dictates of their host communities (Silentman, 1995; David, 2004; Adegoju, 2008). Languages in any multilingual society, whether minor or major, exoglossic or endoglossic or indigenous, should be seen as resources that need be effectively harnessed for development by all public domains irrespective of their origins, numerical strength, political or economic power, among others. In other words, no single language can or should solely and effectively perform the societal developmental goals (Adegbija, 1994: 4; 39; 2004: 64; Orekan, 2010). This is so given the fact that the media, as one of the public domains, which have the capability of promoting indigenous language use perform the role of creating and circulating meaning through the use of language (Oso, 2006: 176; Silentman, 1995).

Thus, the media which use indigenous languages are important for the purpose of information democratization and decentralization, access to resources, information comprehension and utilization, mobilization, socio-political empowerment, cultural and linguistic development and survival, among others (Salawu, 2006: 8; Mavesera, 2011; Capo, 1990:2; Chibata, 2006:266). Traditional formal domains like storytelling, songs, proverbs, parables, music, dance, celebrations, which often help promote languages are positively enhanced in the broadcast media (Onyeche, 2002).

Reinforcing the above indispensable benefits accruable from the use of indigenous languages in the broadcast media, Salawu notes that without the use of the language of the people, “development will only be communicated at the people; not to the people, and not with the people”. Mavesera (2011) asserts that development includes the ability of indigenous languages to express higher knowledge and technology beyond their traditional socio-geographic boundaries. Language development or empowerment programmes in the broadcast domain can turn around the fortunes of languages (Awonusi, 2008). In other words, both globalization and multilingualism or linguistic diversity are no longer seen as

the dunghill for excuses for language under-development in multilingual contexts because the use of language in the broadcast media is part of language engineering efforts aimed at revitalizing languages feared to be going into extinction (Capo, 1990:6).

In line with this, Bodomo, Anderson & Dzahene (2009) note that, following the recommendation of the National Media policy of 2000, there has been maintenance of multilingualism in Ghanaian broadcast media which has resulted in the preparation of the Ghanaian child for effective functioning, inclusion of large population of Ghana in both the communication and democratic processes in the multilingual Ghanaian setting as well as the development of indigenous Ghanaian languages.

Mavesera (2011), on the other hand, says that globalisation is viewed by Roy-Campbell (2006:1) as the world getting smaller thereby making local languages expand their sphere of influence to communicate important knowledge on the global marketplace, express modern scientific and technological information to different parts of the world with a view to ultimately eradicating inequalities and inequities among people of the world. To this end, Swahili has been used by the broadcast media to give it prominence, growth, spread and development (; accessed: 03/03/13). Munkaila and Haruna (2001: 32) have noted that the use of Hausa as a language of national and international broadcast has positively affected its prestige, growth and development and the loyalty given it. Similarly, Elugbe (2004: 41) observes that the use of nine major Nigerian languages (Edo, Efik, Fulfulde, Hausa, Igbo, Izon, Kanuri, Tiv and Yoruba) in the national broadcast media led to the development of such languages by the Federal Ministry of Education. Jennifer (2004) reported that the mass media now serve as a significant domain of status enhancement for Quechua. Adegbija (1994: 40) reports the overwhelming influence of the electronic media on Amharic in Ethiopia, Akan in Ghana, among others. These are a few of such instances showing the place of the media in the development and maintenance of indigenous languages alongside foreign languages to engender all-round desired development.

It, therefore, becomes clear why Bamgbose (2003: 84), cited by Adegoju (2008), charges that the media’s performance should be assessed along linguistic relevance. This is clearly captured thus:

the test of the efficacy of the media for empowerment should be how far they can reach the widest audience possible, and obviously, this must involve the intensive use of African languages’ given the fact that “…90% of our people in both rural and urban areas are untouched by the alleged communication role of English.

However, in all of these efforts, attitude has been identified by numerous scholars who take the middle course between foreign and indigenous language use as one of the important factors that impact on language choice, use, coverage, shift, esteem, development, growth and maintenance (Adegbija, 1994: 40; Gardner 1985, Holmes & Harlow 1991, cited by Igboanusi & Wolf 2009). Such attitude is quite instrumental to measuring the role, use and perception of the society in general towards efforts aimed at promoting indigenous languages used side by side with foreign language (s).

Nonetheless, such scholars have, thus, decried the negative attitude of the broadcast media as well as the native speakers’ towards indigenous language use and indigenous languages in use. Both the attitude of the broadcast media and the speakers of indigenous languages reflect support for the foreign languages and some major indigenous languages against the principle of egalitarian multilingualism characteristic of host locations of broadcast media. Worst still, research reveals that such negative attitude inimical to the use, growth, development, maintenance and sustenance of indigenous languages is common among the youths more linguistically responsible for language development. Such researches about language use, development and attitudes have been concentrated in the academic domain, especially with regard to Nigeria.

Few of such existing literature relating to mass media in Nigeria have been studied within monolingual settings, and on print media. Therefore, in this part of the country quite multilingual, little has been done on language use in the electronic broadcast media within multilingual context with respect to language attitude among youths. Thus, the purpose of this study is to assess attitudes of youths towards the role of the broadcast media in the use of indigenous languages and languages in use.


Edo State was created on August 27, 1991, along with Delta State, out of the old Bendel State, Nigeria. It is an inland state bounded in the north and east by Kogi State, in the west by Ondo, in the south by Delta State. By its strategic position, it is an access state where other tribes have converged. It has a total area of 17, 802 km square (6, 873 sq miles) and a population of 3.218, 322 million by 2006 census estimate (see, retrieved: 12th July, 2013).

By this population, Edo state which is similar in size to Jamaica (2.74m) and larger than Botswana (1.6m) and Trinidad and Tobago (1.1m), is one of the states with a very high concentration of young people. The adolescents and young adults account for more than 32% of the population spread across the three senatorial districts making up Edo state (Omogui, 2005). Edo state, with eighteen local governments, is divided into three senatorial districts namely Edo south, central, and north.

However, there are two positions observed about the language situation in Edo state. While some scholars have portrayed the general perception that Edo state is linguistically homogenous; scholars like Bradbury (1957), Elugbe (1986), Amune (1987), Omogui (2005), Isoken (2006), Ekharo & Akanji (2007) and Omoregbe, (2011) observe that the Edos are distinct from one another not only in certain linguistic but also other socio-cultural features either because of migration, geographical location, or linguistic change due to time factor, although majority of them could be said to have come from almost the same source. The linguistic heterogeneity characterizing Edo state finds support in cladogenesis. Cladogenesis is the process of language branching out into newer and newer species.

Man originally started with one language but as he dispersed to various parts of the world, new languages emerged. When groups of people speaking the same language lose communication with one another because they become either physically or socially separated, they begin to accumulate changes in phonology, semantics and syntax. If this continues for a long time; a new language, different from the original, may emerge (Oke, 1984: 88-89). Yoruba which is a major language in some apparently linguistically homogeneous states now has many dialects that threaten to become different languages owing to increasing non-intelligibility, often with geographical distance, is a justification that languages diverge (Adegbija, 2004: 8).

In line with the above position, Etsako which emigrated from Benin but over time has developed distinctive cultural features noticeable in their various languages that set them apart (Bradbury, 1957; Egharevba, 1968; Ryder, 1969; & Igbafe, 1979; cited by Erhagbe, 2012). Buttressing this, Oke, cited by Ofuokwu (1989) observes the non-reciprocal intelligibility between Edo vs Etsako and Ishan, Okuloso versus Uneme. More so, in Etsako East, Uzairue comprising Aviele, Auchi, Jattu, etc, the people speak a language different from the Okpellas and Okpekpes. Both Aluede and Braimoh (2005) recognize that differences exist between the Akoko-Edo people and the Etsakos especially in the area of culture having stated that Edo is homogenous based on the fact that other tribes migrated from Benin. In other words, such differences should more prominent in the area of language since it is the major element of culture. Elugbe (1986: 11, 23) supports the linguistic diversity among the north-central and north-western Edoid Groups; confirms that there is difference among the Yekhee speaking group of the Etsakos while there are groups in the Etsako local government who are not Yekhee-speaking. There are also Yekhee-speaking people such as Ivbiadaobi of Owan Division who live outside Etsakoland. Furthermore, in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area, there is a multiplicity of mutually unintelligible languages almost every ten yard, such as Uneme, Ososo, Etuno (Ebira), Akuku, Enwan, Okpe, Ikpeshi, Oloma, Igala in Ilushin, etc, spoken such that either Yoruba or Pidgin English is the lingua franca (Elugbe, 1986:17-19; Picton, 1991).

This agrees with some scholars’ observation that the multilingual situation characterizing Nigeria is quite more complex in the northern and south-south states of Nigeria, where several indigenous and foreign languages are spoken and used within a stone throw, therefore giving enough ground to postulate that Edo state is multilingual, multicultural and multidialectal because it is one of the south-south states (Adegbija, 2004; Egbokhare, 2003; cited by Ojebode, 2007: 56; Alilonu, 2011). This is equally supported by Omoregbe (2005) who observes that there are different languages in Edo state like Rivers, Plateau, Kaduna, Taraba and Adamawa states, such that there is no common language. As a result, different ethnic groups such as Bini, Etsako, Esan, Etuno, Owan,Uneme, Okpameri, Izon, Igbo (Ika), among others, which exist speak different languages slightly intelligible to one another (Balogun & Uzomo, 2007). This is further confirmed by the categorization of the Edos into ethnic groups such as Akoko-Edos, Binis, Etsakos, Esans, Owans (Oras) as distinct from other Edoid groups, even though it may not be perfect model for assessing multilingualism (Usuanlele & Agbontaen, 2000). However, these ethnic groups have, in one way or the other, tried to protect their languages recognizing them as mark of identity.

A further look at the language attitude of the people of Edo state overtime justifies that there are different languages in the state. Elugbe (1986:24) notes that ethno-linguistic vitality does not allow any one from the compounded name “Ora-Emai-Iuleha” to apply the name of any one of them to the whole because of political and inter-clan rivalry. Similarly, in a report on the use of mother-tongue for literacy submitted by UNESCO in 1964, the choice of Auchi dialect as a standard for Etsako orthography was rejected by other speakers of the dialects of Etsako. Also, the choice of Agbede dialect was rejected by the Etsako Language Committee.

The level of unintelligibility as a distinguishing factor in measuring a multilingual Edo state is played out in the struggle for having a homogenous Edo state language. The complexity of the Edo state linguistic situation is worsened by the fact that none of the indigenous languages is a major language nor is any used as a common medium of communication in the state. A historian, in support of this, reports that the heterogeneous nature of Edo state has made scholars and concerned citizens of the state to agitate for a common Edo language. Chief Anthony Enahoro, while facilitating a pan-Edo meeting abroad, suggested “Okpamaikhin” as an umbrella term for the proposed common Edo language (, retrieved: 12th July, 2013). An attempt at realizing the above has shown ethno-linguistic loyalty. Ndukwe (1989: 84-85), citing Wolff (1964) reports that the Ishans and Etsakos rejected the adoption of the “Universal Edo Alphabet’ on the suspicion of Edo (Bini) linguistic imperialism. Elugbe (1986) citing Wolff (1964) reports the non-reciprocal intelligibility among some Nigerian communities in particular with regard to Kalabari vs Nembe; Edo vs Etsako and Ishan; Urhobo vs Isoko and Okpe.

The complexity further derives from the diversity of dialects highly magnified at the borderlands with Igala speaking community in Esan South-East, and Urhobo, and Yoruba communities in the Ovia and Akoko-Edo local government areas (Arokoyo, 2012; Adegbija, 2004). This is what Adegbija (2004: 16) calls “borderline multilingualism”. This diversity is further intensified by non-Edo indigenes from other cultures like Yoruba, Hausa, Ibo, Izon, Ika, etc, whose languages are spoken and equally speak some Edo state languages as second language. Onyeche (2002) notes that Ika (Igbanke) language which has about 240, 000 (by 1991 census) is spoken in three communities of Ota, Olijie and Igbanke which cohabit with the Esans apart from those of them resident in Delta state. She equally notes that most of them are multilingual. She further suggested that some Ikans would be multilingual therefore enhancing reception and comprehension in broadcast in indigenous languages. There are Igala speaking communities in Esan South East; Igbira in Akoko-Edo and Afemai; Urhobo, Izon, Itsekiri, Yoruba in Ovia North East & South West Local Governments; Uneme spoken in Akoko-Edo, Etsako and Esan; Esan in Etsakoland. This further shows that some Edo state languages transcend geographical boundaries.

On the other hand, there is the linguistic problem of establishing a clear-cut difference between language and dialect generally in language census (Adegbija, 2004: 5) probably because of lack of familiarity with the language terrain by scholars. This is equally true about the inexact number and status of Edo state languages. For instance, Adegbija (2004: 49), in his identification of thirty-one Edo state languages, did identify dialects as languages. Ibillo and Lampese identified by him as languages are rather dialects of Okpameri.

Similarly, Ekpedo identified as a language is equally a dialect of Uneme. This observation is quite objective given the fact the researcher is from this linguistic terrain. Nonetheless, while Egbokhare (2006: 116) reports that Edo State has approximately thirty languages, Grimes (2000) in “Ethnologue: Languages of the World” lists about twenty-one Edo state languages and their dialects, Omoregbe (2005) reports that there are about twenty-four Edo state languages. Some other scholars report that there are about seventeen (17) major Edoid languages spoken as first major languages in Edo State (Omoregbe, 2011).

Whatever be the number, it is therefore crystal-clear that Edo state is not monolingual and most citizens speak more than one Edo state language. By and large, some of the indigenous languages found in the state are Edo (Bini), Esan, Owan (Ora), Yekhee (Etsako), Okpameri, Igbanke, Uneme, Etuno (Igarra), Ijo (Izon), Ghotuo, Okpe-Idesa-Akuku, Ososo, Okpella, Sasaru-Enwan, Yoruba, Igbanke, Oloma, Ikpeshi, Isoko, Ibo; Ikaan (spoken in Anyanran & Ikakumo, Akoko-Edo), Igala, (Adegbija, 2004: 43; Arokoyo, 2012; Salffner, 2009). These languages are spoken in more than one local government.

At the national level, none of these languages qualifies as a major language while at the state level some are “major” while others are “minor” (Elugbe, 1995). Some of these languages are spoken across local governments of the state and other neighbouring states and have some degree of development in terms of standandization. These languages belong, generally, to the Kwa branch of Niger-Kordofanian phylum, and specifically, Edoid language group. These languages which belong to the Edoid language group are further subcategorized into North-Central Edoid and North-Western Edoid. The North-Central Edoid language group includes Bini (Edo), Esan, Ora, Ghotuo, Yekhee, Ibie, Uneme, Ososo, Ate, Ikpeshi, Sasaru, Enwan, Okpella; while the North-Western Edoid include Akuku, Etuno (Igbira, Igarra), Okpameri, Okpe, Oloma. Within some of these languages there is high degree of

multi-dialectalism. Bini is spoken in Ovia, Oredo, Uhunwonde, Egor, and Orhionwon local governments of Edo South. Ishan (Esan) is spoken in Esan North-East, Esan-West, Esan South-East, and Esan-Central of Edo Central. Yekhee (Etsako) is spoken in Etsako Central, Etsako West, and Etsako East of Edo North. Emai-Iuleha-Ora in Owan is spoken in Owan West and Owan East of Edo North; Ghuotuo in Owan and Akoko-Edo, Okpameri in Akoko-Edo of Edo North, Igbanke (Ika speaking communities of Igbanke) in Orhionwon of Edo South, (see Adegbija, 2004: 43;,, retrieved: 10th June, 2013).

Besides the existence of indigenous languages, colonialization, education and religion have brought about imposition of some foreign languages. Arabic is spoken by quite a large part of Edo north’s population who are basically Muslims. English is the official language of formal and informal businesses. Together with pidgin, they form languages of wider, and interethnic, communication. Pidgin which is used in the media and interethnic communication is spoken by about 70% adults in Benin (Edo), (Adegbija, 2004: 18; 55). There is also the learning and teaching of French and Latin used by Catholic members within the state. The above language situation prompts the use of English and pidgin as languages of inter-ethnic communication in both primary and secondary domains of language use. Adegbija (2004: 15; 64) buttresses this fact by stating that Pidgin English has creolized into mother-tongue in some parts of Delta and Edo states owing to the heavy multilingual nature of these states; and Bendel (formerly comprising Edo and Delta) is among states predominantly multilingual. The use of the following languages observed in the defunct Bendel State Media include Bini, Ososo, Owan, Okpameri, Esan, Etsako, Igbanke, Izon and Yoruba is a clear testimony of the existence of multilingualism in Edo state (Adegbija, 2004: 75; Jowitt, 1991: 11).

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