Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - “An advice, ” “a good news”: Errors of Pluralization in Nigerian English

A short, complete aside :

The overriding argument is reducible to : Development! Development !Development ! With English we will develop!

Like Ginsberg's holy ! holy ! holy ! :

"The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy! The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy!" ( Footnote to Howl)

Prof Falola's comments are probably calculated to tease out some repudiatory / explanatory/ explicatory response and to get the good discussion engine back on track?

1. Re - Arabic during the Golden age of Andalusia, (when the Arabs colonised Spain, which with dar al-Islam, they may one day want to re-claim.

Moses Maimonides who was known as Rabbi Moses ben Maimon and also known as RAMBAM , Judaism's greatest thinker of the Middle Ages composed his major works such as The Guide For the Perplexed in Arabic - but his Mishneh Torah was written in Hebrew

2. In Israel Arabic is taught as a second language. Perhaps, enough reason for Gaddafi to invite Israel to join the Arab League. Nuff said.

3. Sudan would surely not object. The greatest resistance to Arabic as the Black Continent's lingua franca of course will come from the Christians, the "polytheists" and some of the cultural chauvinists and Black African nationalists. I imagine my mentor thundering, "With language cometh civilisation , so why not Yoruba?" To which the Igbo and the Bi-afrans of course will object , maybe violently. The "smallies", the minority language groups have no say in the matter since there's no way they can dream of imposing their minority languages on the majority in e.g. Nigeria, not to talk of the whole of Africa - so they may much prefer English the unifier - to e.g. Arabic - mostly on religious grounds, what the propagandists will call " cultural imperialism" - the same kind of fearful reasons for keeping Islamic Turkey out of the EU, their watchword being "Watch out for your soul!" Counter-culture argument : Ayi Kwei Armah asked the question in either Why are we so Blest ? or Fragments : What happens to the soul of an African by who grows up being called Mike? There's also Armah's horrific polemic in Two thousand Seasons

4. But to return to my new companion. I was greatly delighted with him, and made it my business to teach him everything that was proper to make him useful, handy, and helpful; but especially to make him speak, and understand me when I spoke; and he was the aptest scholar there ever was.
-- Daniel Defoe,
Robinson Crusoe

So de facto, should British or American English become Africa's continental lingua franca? The whole world becoming English? What uncle-tom foolery! All said and done, that argument seems to be going in the direction of the grand conspiracy for Anglo-American "linguistic"imperialism , world domination and world government. First you grab them by their minds; control their minds. I don't think that the French are going to like that. They aren't stupid, but maybe they'll stay in the EU because British English has Brexited.

Last year in Marrakesh the Brits and I were complaining bitterly that neither the BBC nor CNN or any of them/ those were available in our five star hotel rooms and that we all had to content ourselves with parlez-vous France 24 - who of course have their own agenda. Just imagine: Morocco was only a colony for some thirty five years - and yet!

Where do you live? , the Brits asked me - in Sweden I told them, but I come from your very first colony in Africa and for the longest period too, 150 years : Sierra Leone and they all said, " Oh! Tony Blair was there!"

5. Consider : The USSR lost the cold war in Africa - second best students went to Russia, Patrice Lumumba University etc. (the best went to the UK, France Germany, USA.) African students were processed to speak Russia by the best language teaching perhaps in the world and returned home with at least a Masters degree to occupy higher positions - unfortunately those who had studied planned economy did not really, easily fit in into capitalist Kenya for example, obviously.

6. What's wrong with Hausa mathematics, Fulani poetry, Yoruba dialectics , art and music?



On Monday, 20 March 2017 05:47:00 UTC+1, Farooq A. Kperogi wrote:
Oga Falola,

You dodged my questions and came out with fresh questions of your own, questions that ignored what I said earlier in this thread. Perhaps you've not had a chance to catch up on all the exchanges in the entire thread. So let's do this:

Ken and others:
For my own education:
1. Can you supply a list of countries that have developed by primarily using the language of others?" Professor Falola

That is not the point. The point of is that evidence from linguistic research (and, I might add, common sense) shows that no one is infrangibly wired to cogitate rarefied thoughts only in their natal language. Societies don't develop because they use their primordial languages for education, nor do they stagnate because they deploy a foreign language for education. Development isn't solely a function of language of instruction at schools; it's a consequence of a concatenation of a multiplicity of factors.

There are more than 6,000 living languages in the world. Your linguistic deterministic thesis of development would suggest that all the 6909 living languages in the world should have their separate instructional policies based on their languages. What a babel that would be!

But to answer your question directly, scholarship in Latin, that is, Classical Latin, is the foundation of development in the West. Latin wasn't native to vast swathes of people in Europe, but it was the language of education (including in North Africa where it was studied in schools until the Roman Empire waned.) European development wasn't stalled because people learned and used Latin for scholarship; on the contrary, scholarship in Latin is the foundation for the continent's development. It isn't because there is something intrinsically superior or magical about Latin; it's simply because, for historical reasons, it was the vault of knowledge at the time--the way English is today.

In the Muslim world, particularly from the 8th century to the 13th century, during the so-called Golden Age of Islam, when science, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, economic development, etc. grew and  flowered luxuriantly, the language of scholarship was Arabic, but several of the key personages associated with this golden age spoke Arabic as a second language.  For example, Muhammad Ibn Musa al-Kwarizmi, the father of algorithm, spoke Farsi as his first language, but his language of education was Arabic. That didn't stop him from making profound contributions to knowledge and to development. Note that Farsi (Persian) and Arabic are not only mutually unintelligible languages, they also belong to two different language families. Persian is an Indo-European language (in common with English!) while Arabic is an Afro-Asiatic language (in common with Hausa!).

Ibn Sina, through whose efforts the West recovered Aristotle and whose work in medical science is foundational, was also a Persian who learned and wrote in Arabic. Arabic was a second language to him. I can go on, but the point I want to make is that several of the central figures in Islam's golden age weren't native Arabic speakers. Arabic was merely a language of education. It was the epistemic storehouse of the time, and the fact of its foreignness didn't cause it to halt the development of the societies in which it was used.

For modern examples of countries that developed using a foreign language, I mentioned Singapore which, though ethnically Chinese, uses English as the language of instruction at all levels of education. Hong Kong is another example. Several universities in Asia and Europe are now switching to English as their language of instruction. They aren't stupid.

But get this: This isn't about English as a language of culture, or as a symbol of colonial domination; it's about the fact that it is the depository of contemporary epistemic production and circulation. You shut it out at your own expense. It is hard-nosed pragmatism to embrace its epistemic resources both for development and for subversion. 

Of course, English won't always be the language of scholarship. Like Latin, Arabic, Greek, etc., it would wane at some point, especially when America ceases to be the main character in the movie of world politics and economy, which Trump's emerging fascism is helping to hasten faster than anyone had imagined. It could be succeeded by an African language or by Mandarin. Should that happen, it would be counterproductive for any country in the world to, in the name of nativist linguistic self-ghettoization, ignore such an African language or to ignore Mandarin.

The binaries you are erecting here are unhelpful. Embracing the dominant language of scholarship, which is also the receptacle of vast systems of knowledge, doesn't imply a repudiation or denigration of one's native language. As I told you in our recent conversation, I don't speak English to my children here in America. It's Baatonu all the way. When we visited home last summer, people were surprised that my children spoke perfect Baatonu and perfect American English. They can also get by really well in Pidgin English and in Nigerian English.


2. The Hausa speaking people are more than Swedes, Afrikaners in South Africa, the population of Israel and several countries less than 10 million. Why do these other groups use their languages successfully ?--Professor Falola

It isn't about numerical power; it's about symbolic power. You don't get symbolic power by just wishing it, or by fiat. You work for it to earn it. It isn't about mushy, feel-good emotions.

"The source of the debate is that it is being framed as the use of Yoruba as a replacement to English. No." Professor Falola

You are the first person to mention this. No one, to my knowledge, has framed this discussion as the use of Yoruba as a replacement to English. Nor is that the source of the debate. Go back to the beginning of the thread. The source is my weekly grammar column in the Daily Trust. Yoruba never featured there.

"I need to be convinced that Farooq should not be allowed to submit a dissertation in a Nigerian language. What is wrong to write a PhD thesis in Hausa?" Professor Falola

Like most Nigerians, I was educated in English from elementary school to college. I learned all the concepts I deploy to appropriate social reality in English. You can't ask me to write a PhD dissertation in a language I didn't formally learn at an advanced level for a sustained period. It doesn't work that way. Even native English speakers who aren't formally educated in their language can't write a dissertation in English. Why should Nigerians be different?

But I am frankly curious why you are hung up on Hausa? I want to believe your concerns are actuated by an innocuous, praiseworthy Africanist zeal, but you open yourself vulnerable to charges of what George W. Bush (can't believe I'm quoting this man!) once called the "soft bigotry of low expectations." You know, since these Hausa people are incapable of achieving appreciable proficiency in English, they might as well do all their instruction in their language. That's what you come across as implying.

As I said earlier, I am certain that this isn't your motivation for suggesting that northern universities use Hausa as their language of instruction and scholarship, but I do know that southerners are socialized into thinking that northerners, particularly Hausa-speaking northerners, are intellectually inferior and are incapable of achieving the same level of proficiency in English as their southern counterparts, and therefore can't even benefit from the ideational resources the language has to offer.

 Two years ago, I was in the office of a US-based southern Nigerian professor who didn't know I understood enough Yoruba to grasp the tenor of most conversations in the language. He spurned a suggestion from another US-based Yoruba professor to invite professors from Nigeria's north for a project by saying academics in northern universities don't speak English proficiently and won't be a good fit for the collaborative project. He said Hausa is the language of instruction in the schools there. He was embarrassed when I told him I graduated from Bayero University in Kano, and that we speak just as good or bad English as anybody else from any Nigerian university.

So I need you to clarify why you isolated northern Nigerian universities for indigenous language instruction, more so that, that part of the country has a history of scholarship in Arabic, a foreign language, dating back to several decades. if they got by fine with a foreign language for decades, why can't they get by with another foreign language that is the de facto language of scholarship in the world?

 Should Yoruba also be the language of instruction at the universities in Lagos, Ibadan, Ife, etc.? Or, for that matter, should every Nigerian university instruct and conduct scholarship in the local languages of their communities? And why don't you write your books in Yoruba?

Farooq Kperogi



Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Journalism & Emerging Media
School of Communication & Media
Social Science Building 
Room 5092 MD 2207
402 Bartow Avenue
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw, Georgia, USA 30144
Cell: (+1) 404-573-9697
Personal website: www.farooqkperogi.com
Twitter: @farooqkperog
Author of Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms of Nigerian English in a Global World

"The nice thing about pessimism is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." G. F. Will


On Sun, Mar 19, 2017 at 5:51 PM, Toyin Falola <toyin...@austin.utexas.edu> wrote:
Ken and others:
For my own education:
1. Can you supply a list of countries that have developed by primarily using the language of others?
2. The Hausa speaking people are more than Swedes, Afrikaners in South Africa, the population of Israel and several countries less than 10 million. Why do these other groups use their languages successfully ?

The source of the debate is that it is being framed as the use of Yoruba as a replacement to English. No. 
I need to be convinced that Farooq should not be allowed to submit a dissertation in a Nigerian language. What is wrong to write a PhD thesis in Hausa?
TF

Sent from my iPhone

On Mar 19, 2017, at 2:40 PM, Kenneth Harrow <har...@msu.edu> wrote:

Toyin said:

In terms of development generally, the reality is that English is the language of modernity. Take it or leave it, it makes no difference. The Asians etc are scrambling to learn English. Why? The 20th century onward is dominated by Anglo-American civilization, as demonstrated by the cultural sweep of this civilization, as suggested even by the origins of this medium in which we are communicating.

I think he sums up an indisputable argument, in the claims that English is the language of modernity.

But that language that toyin identifies is really what Farooq has been calling standard English.

That means, as I understand it, not the language of a specific culture, but rather, as toyin said, perfectly, the language of modernity.

The language that airplane pilots all around the world have to master adequately to land a plane in an airport. Or for technicians to learn, or those whose livelihood depends on global traffic.

Like kids learning what to say to tourists. Not the language of anglo-american civilization, toyin, as far as I can see. There is nothing whatever that is specific to a given culture. That's why the words that are culturally specific, like slip or underpants or shorts or vest—all those words that are different in given cultures—are not the words that really matter in standard English, unless you are selling them as commodities. But when it comes to something like barrels of oil, or dollars, or Chinese words for currency, etc., become universal.

Words you need to know if you go to a hotel, or, more importantly, if you run the hotel; not words that are used in people's homes.

Foreign words, flat words, professional words, words for those who are trained, not those who just grow up hearing the words.

Words like thanks and goodbye; not like how much? Where?

See ya'

Tata

Or words that change, quickly, like slang, in contrast with words used by tv announcers whose broadcasts are seen around the word.

By the way, what language is now being taught across the united states, not just increasingly in universities, but in high schools, middle schools—schools that advertise themselves as up to date, globally relevant? Chinese. mandarin Chinese. Meanwhile all those prestigious European tongues have practically disappeared: French, Italian, even german; while Spanish is managing to hang on, but, I recently learned, also struggling….

ken

 

Kenneth Harrow

Dept of English and Film Studies

Michigan State University

619 Red Cedar Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-803-8839

harrow@msu.edu

http://www.english.msu.edu/people/faculty/kenneth-harrow/

 

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