Ifeoma Onyemelukwe


The present study has the objective of making a case study of Igbo as an endangered language. It sets out to identify the factors leading to the endangerment of the Igbo language, the immediate and long-term effects of this linguistic phenomenon of Igbo language endangerment. Two methods are applied: descriptive and historical. It is established, in this study, that the Igbo language is an endangered language. It is in a dying state and many of the younger generation (Igbo children and families) no longer speak Igbo. Also, they no longer learn it as a mother tongue (MT) informally and imperceptibly at home. Speaking Igbo is left generally at the hands of the generation of some Igbo parents. Factors of endangerment of Igbo found include undesirable language attitudes and disloyalty to the Igbo language and the marginalization of the Igbo language, a majority language. One long-term negative consequence of the Igbo language endangerment discovered in this study is that the Igbo language runs the risk of becoming extinct forty to fifty years from now if no drastic measures are taken to curb the ugly trend. Another long-term effect is the death of Ndigbo (linguistic and symbolic death). Some recommendations are proffered, notably: changing undesirable attitudes to the Igbo language; sensitization of Ndigbo both young and old to the display of great loyalty to the Igbo language, socio-linguistic readiness for literacy in Igbo and development of Igbo to become a language of science and technology through more thorough work on its metalanguage. The speedy and effective implementation of the recommendations will, hopefully, avert for the Igbo language and the Igbo nation the impending doom.




Basden, G.I. Among the Ibos of Nigeria. London: Seeley Service and Company Limited,

Dawulung, G.Y. “Language Survival in a Multilingual Setting.” E.N. Emenanjo and P.K. Bleambo, eds. Language Endangerment and Language Empowerment in Nigeria: Theory and Reality, Vol. 1. Aba: National Institute for Nigerian Languages, 1999.

Edeh, E.M.P. Towards An Igbo Metaphysics. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1985.

Emenanjo, E.N. “Central Igbo: An Objective Appraisal.” Igbo Language and Culture. Ibadan: OUP, 1975.

Emenanjo, E.N. Modern Igbo Grammar. Ibadan: OUP, 1978.

Emenanjo, E.N. and P.K. Bleambo, eds. Language Endangerment and Language Empowerment in Nigeria :Theory and Reality, Vol.I. Aba: National Institute for Nigerian Languages, 1999.

Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN). National Policy on Education. Lagos: NERDC Press, 1998.





Ikejiani-Clarke, M.I.O. “The Igbo in Contemporary Nigeria. G.E.K. Ofomata (ed.) A Survey of the Igbo Nation. Ibadan: Africana First Publishers Ltd., 2002: 628-643.

Moseley, C. Atlas des langues en danger dans le monde. .

Njaka, I.N. Igbo Political Culture. Evanston: North Western University Press, 1974.

Onuekwusi, N. “Do not Let Our Homeland Die: We the People of Anambra State Must Return to God.” 2nd Anambra Development Summit (2006). “Anambra 2030 Pathway to a Rich and Modern Society.” Awka: League of Anambra Professionals (LAP), 2006.

Onyemelukwe, I.M. « L’alternance codique et l’hybridation langagière chez les locuteurs natifs igbo au Nigeria : le conflit diglossique et ses conséquences. » Chioma Uzoho, Scholastica Ezeodili and Tina Okoye, eds. The Dignity of a French Teacher : Celebrating Prof. Julie Agbasiere. Awka:Afab Anieh Nig. Ltd, 2013: 2-15.

—. “Polyglottism for Regional and Global Integration: A Comparative Study of the French and Ndigbo.” JAKADIYA: A Journal of Researches in African Languages and Literatures 1.1(1999): 97-130.

—. “Problems of Pronunciation of French Sounds among Igbo learners of French.” PGDE Thesis, Ahmadu Bello U, Zaria, 1982.

—. « Textes littéraires multilingues, interlangue et compréhensibilité textuelle :une étude de Guelwaar de Sembène Ousmane. » Journal of Vocational and Technical Education (JOVTED) 1.1 (2000):84-99.

Tabouret-Keller, A. and G. Varro. “Combien de langues sur terres et combien de langues reconnues.” Education et Société plurilingues 9 (2000): 1-6.

The Hutchinson Encyclopedia. Oxford : Helicon Publishing Ltd., 1999.

Ubahakwe, E. “The Language and Dialects of Igbo.” G.E.K. Ofomata, ed. A Survey of the Igbo Nation. Ibadan: African First Publishers Ltd., 2002: 252-271.


There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright © 2014 – 2019. JMEL All Rights Reserved.

ISSN:978-978-48450-4-5 Powered by Myrasoft Systems Ltd.(Phone Number: )

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *