Investigating language use, shift and change across generations in Nigeria: The case of Ijáw

Ayomoto, Bomiegha Ofeni. 2019. Investigating language use, shift and change across generations in Nigeria: The case of Ijáw. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Investigating language use, shift and change across generations in Nigeria: The case of Ijáw)
EDU_thesis_AyomotoB_2019.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (4MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

This sociolinguistic study examines the life stories of a selected group of Nigerians spanning four generations. Their socio-economic backgrounds are varied, but they share the bond of the Ijáw language, which is key to their ethnic identity, Izón. The thesis investigates why the Ijáw language appears to be in decline and examines the way language use has changed across generations and why the language is apparently not being passed down from one generation to the next. In addition, it highlights the participants’ own perspectives on this decline and their efforts to reverse it.

Methodologically, the study adopts a qualitative approach by examining the life stories of the participants as recorded during interviews via the application of thematic analysis exploring the participants’ experiences, beliefs, emotions, attitudes and practices pertaining to Ijáw. The data reveal several themes, including the emotional attachment of love and pride versus the sense of loss in terms of the language, the shift from Ijáw to English, Nigerian Pidgin English and Yoruba, and the issue of blame for its decline. Key findings include the identification of a shift in the use of Ijáw and the manifestation of new trends in language use which one participant describes as “funkyfied”. This new trend reflects a tendency for the younger generation of educated, urban speakers to alter the Ijáw language by dynamically mixing it with other languages and viewing language, along with dress and music, not as a fence but as a cultural bridge.

This thesis focuses on language use, language shift and language change over time and across generations, providing useful insights for the exploration of other declining indigenous languages in Africa and around the world.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


Language, culture, identity, shift, translanguaging, code-switching, hybridity, intergeneration

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


31 May 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

19 Jun 2019 09:09

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:14


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)