Endangerment scenario: The case of Yorùbá


Adeleke A. Fakoya


Department of English, Lagos State University, Lagos, Nigeria


Numerous perils, including death, may befall a language and make its growth or relevance somewhat pointless, leading to the ‘birth’ of a population with little regard for their own languages and an untamed interest in a foreign tongue and culture. The Yorùbá language – currently suffering from numerous ‘perilous’ factors – is purportedly spoken by more than 22 million people (Wikipedia 2006), a figure that ordinarily should ensure its strength and survival for many more years to come. However, statistics obtained for this paper demonstrates that most modern speakers of Yorùbá: 1) cannot perform purely in the language without using the crutches offered by the English language; 2) hardly enrich their talk with the legacy of proverbs and axioms; 3) do not know the meanings encoded in their own names; and 4) have totally lost contact with their ecological heritage. As a result, the paper submits that though the language has been written since as early as 1800 and possesses numerous speakers, it is facing an endangerment scenario, especially with its speakers’ inability to express themselves without recourse or appeal to a foreign language; and that in spite of its rich heritage, these speakers shun it and latch on to other languages for communicative efficiency. The result of it all is that the language as well as its speakers may have reached its development plateau.


Yorùbá; metalanguage failure; language endangerment; endangerment scenario; development plateau

Publication Date

December 20, 2007


Volume 1, Issue 2

Citation information

Fakoya, Adeleke A. 2007. “Endangerment scenario: The case of Yorùbá.” Language. Text. Society 1 (2): e90-e105. https://ltsj.online/2007-01-2-fakoya. (Journal title at the time of publication: SamaraAltLinguo E-Journal.)


author = {Fakoya, Adeleke A.},
title = {{Endangerment scenario: The case of Yorùbá}},
journal = {Language. Text. Society},
year = {2007},
volume = {1},
number = {2},
pages = {90–105},
url = {https://ltsj.online/2007-01-2-fakoya/},


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