Applying Local Language: Communication on the Road in a Multilingual Society

Adekunbi Eniola Akintola, Joshua Sunday Ayantayo


The sociolinguistic phenomenon called multilingualism has created two different camps. The first camp is the camp of those who believe that the phenomenon is a curse to the society while the second camp believes that it is a source of novel delight and subtle experience, a blessing. Those who believed that multilingualism is a curse find their solace in the biblical history of the tower of Babel as recorded in Genesis 11:9, as a punishment for people’s pride. The history of the Dolgan fairy tale and the mother goddess of Acola tribe in New Mexico also supported this view. The Dolgan fairy tale claims that diversity of the tongue is a punishment of people’s quarrelling. The New Mexico mother goddess curses his people with multiple tongues to prevent quarrelling. However those who supported the view that multilingualism is a blessing also find their solace in the words of Holy Quran 30:22, where diversity of tongue is seen as a blessing and the new testaments account of the Bible in the Act of Apostle 2:4, where the apostles were empowered with the miraculous gift of tongue.
This work touches upon the view of multilingualism as a blessing and therefore advocates the need to explore the use of mother tongue in multilingual society to give road instructions. This, we discover will reduce road mishaps in our society.
Questionnaires were set out to ask about the educational qualification of most commercial drivers and to know which language they will prefer to see the road instructions. Most of them will be delighted to see the instructions in their local languages. Road users within Ibadan metropolis were given questionnaire to respond to. Three hundred questionnaires were administered while two hundred and eighty one were recovered which signifies 93.7%. The result shows that most of the road users prefer to see road instructions in their mother tongue.


Sociolinguistics; Multilingualism; Communication; Road instructions; Mother tongue

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