Dynamics of Power Relationship, English vs African Languages: A Cross Current of a Sort

Godwin C. S. Iwuchukwu


The power interplay between African languages and English language is both interesting and intriguing. The English language backed by multifarious contact with several cultures and languages, the history of British colonial experiences and the absence of a regulatory English language academy have had considerable influence on African languages. At the literary level for example, in fact ironically, English is the dominant language of African literature. At the linguistic level, English phonetics/phonology, vocabulary expansion, syntax, as well as semantics has infiltrated into African languages. Also at the cultural level, it has equally assumed the status of even being the dominant medium of expression of African cultural heritage. On the other hand, the African languages are not completely down and out without some bruises on the “heels” of English. Our findings are that African literature and culture in English both still encapsulates relics of African languages that have not only sensitized the English speaking world of the existence and potency of these languages but also placed African linguistics image at the highest altar of literary coliseum. The seeming renaissance in linguistic research, scholarship and development of African languages and especially in the late twentieth and twenty first centuries, could hardly be extricated from this relationship. Our conclusion therefore, is that rather than the power equation between African languages and English being completely one sided in favour of English, it is a cross-current of a sort.
Key words: African Language; English Language; African Literature; African Linguistics


African Language; English Language; African Literature; African Linguistics


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968%2Fj.sll.1923156320110203.019


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