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1.1      Background of the study

The multilingual nature of Nigeria has become one of her greatest challenges in recent time. Inconsistent language policy, successive government‟s inability to pick any of the indigenous languages as a national language, non-codification of many minority languages, inadequate definition of roles for indigenous languages in governance, among others, are some of the major harbinger of this crisis. Although Nigeria has between 250 and 400 indigenous languages (Ogunwale 2013) none of the languages has been considered worthy of adoption as national language. Attempt was made to popularize an artificial language, akin to Swahili of the East Africans, in the 1990s, but that was also unsuccessful as it contains mostly bits of words and vocabularies found only in the three major languages, namely WA (Yoruba); ZO (Hausa) and BIA (Igbo), neglecting the other languages. English Language has since continued to gain so much prominence in the country that its dominance has stifled the growth (and even led to the extinction of some) of the 529 indigenous languages in Nigeria. The dominance, as could be decipher, is not inflicted, but by a natural course of indispensability of the language as its use cuts across different spheres of the nation. However, when one considers the fact that the linguistic situation in Nigeria before colonisation was that in which indigenous languages thrived and promoted cultural values of the people, then it will be expedient to unravel why the indigenous languages suddenly take the back seat. In the course of colonization, Nigerian indigenous languages had contact with the language of the colonialists; the latter was more favored than the former. English language then became the language of colonial administration. At independence the language was bequeathed to Nigeria as a nation, especially because it was the only language that was used for administration, missionary work and later education. Even after attaining independence, Nigeria has not been able to have language policies that could create functions for the indigenous languages. The existing policy which is an aspect of the Education Policy of 1977, has only feebly assigned roles that have been difficult to execute so effectively. The status of these three languages as major languages is captured in the National Policy of Education formulated in1977 (and which has subsequently been revised in 1981, 1989, 1998 and 2004). The Nigerian Language Policy is a document of the Federal Government of Nigeria, which has statutory guidelines regarding the official use of different languages in the country. Although the policy documents and stresses the importance of language to national development, as a means of promoting social interaction and national cohesion, as well as preserving the nation’s rich cultural heritage, but its implementation has not been diligently executed. The Yoruba language is mainly spoken in West Africa with millions of speakers mainly in Nigeria and Benin with some in other parts of Africa. The traditional ruler is known as the Timi Agbale, the most prominent Timi in recent history is Oba John Adetoyese Laoye who made the "talking drum" popular. He was reputed to have entertained the Queen of England with his group of skilled drummers and poets when she first visited Nigeria and thereafter in her palace in England before he died in 1975. The present King of the town is Oba Munirudeen Adesola Lawal (Laminisa 1). The Ede speech community being a largely indigenous Yoruba community uses the Standard Yoruba dialect which is also known as the Oyo dialect. The Yoruba language has been classified as one of the major languages in Nigeria simply because of the population that speaks it. In recent times certain factors such as the economy and location of schools has brought the people in contact with other languages. The town parades an array of Elementary Schools, Middle Schools, High Schools, a Federal Polytechnic and two universities. One of them Adeleke University already has members of staff and students in the various faculties while the second university, The Redeemers University is completed. With the myriad of educational institutions in Yoruba town the indigenes who predominantly speak Yoruba language are having frequent contact with students and staff of the various institutions who are mostly bilinguals of Yoruba and English. A situation of language contact is presented and the impact is more on the indigenes as they have had to use English words and expressions in order to sell their goods and services to the staff and students of the various institutions highlighted above. Language as defined by Oluga (2006) is a systemic means of expressing ideas, facts, views, thoughts, opinions or a means of passing meaningful messages or information by the use of appropriate signs, sounds, symbols and gestures generally understood by all the users within a speech community.


Nigeria being a multilingual society has adopted English Language as its official language with the resultant effect of bilingualism and multilingualism even in a predominantly indigenous community like Yoruba. It is of a fact that when more than one language is in regular use in a community certain things happen linguistically, sociologically, educationally, politically in that society. Thus the co-existence of English and Yoruba languages in Yoruba community has produced various hybrid forms in terms of nativilized or domesticated variety of English, characterized by interference, code-mixing and code-switching, on the part of the second language speakers (L2). It is in view of this that the researcher intend to investigate the impact of Yoruba on the spoken English of student in Illorin.


The main objective of the study is to ascertain the impact of Yoruba on the spoken English of student in Illorin, but to aid the successful completion of the study, the researcher intend to achieve the following objective;

i)             To ascertain the impact of Yoruba on the spoken English of student in Illorin

ii)           To evaluate the effect of Yoruba on the eloquence level of student in spoken English

iii)          To investigate the role of Yoruba language on the unity

iv)         T

iv)         To suggest possible solution to the identified problem


To aid the successful completion of the study the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;

H0: Yoruba language does not have any significant impact on the spoken English of student in Illorin

H1: Yoruba language does have a significant impact on the spoken English of student in Illorin

H02: Yoruba language does not have any effect on the eloquence level of student in English language.

H2: Yoruba language does have a significant effect on the eloquence level of students in English language


It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of benefit to lecturers and student of English language as the study will guide them to create a synergy between both English language and Yoruba language, because Nigeria being a multilingual nation there is bound to be conflict between theses language considering the effect of language on the unity of Nigeria. The study will also be of great importance to department of linguistic as the study will add to the existing literature. The study will also be of great importance to student who intend to embark on a study in similar topic as the findings of the study will serve as a pathfinder to them. Finally the study will be of great importance to students, teachers and the general public as the finding will add to the pool of existing literature.


The scope of the study covers the impact of Yoruba language on the spoken English of students in Illorin, in the cause of the study, the researcher enconters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

(a) Availability of research material: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.      

(b) Time: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

(c) Finance: The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.



Language is the ability to acquire and use complex systems of communication, particularly the human ability to do so, and a language is any specific example of such a system. The scientific study of language is called linguistics. Questions concerning the philosophy of language, such as whether words can represent experience, have been debated since Gorgias and Plato in Ancient Greece.

Spoken English

English is the primary language of the international business world. Knowing how to speak English properly is paramount to your success in business.



Yoruba language

Yoruba (Èdè Yorùbá) Yoruba is a member of the Volta-Niger branch of the Niger-Congo family oflanguages. It is spoken by about 28 million people in southwest Nigeria, Benin, Togo, the UK, Brazil and the USA. It is one of the four official languages of Nigeria, along with English, Hausa and Igbo.

1.8      Organization of the study

This research work is organized in five chapters for easy understanding as follows Chapter one is concern with the introduction which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study it’s based thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.  Chapter five gives summary, conclusion and recommendations made of the study.

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