I am a product of an intertribal marriage, my dad is egun and mum is igbo. From my growing up days I’ve always had issues with it but that’s a topic for another day.
We grew up speaking English language, my mum occasionally spoke igbo to us but the basic like come and eat, etc but she never held a conversation with us and if she spoke igbo to us, we’d reply in English. We were never corrected to reply in igbo. My dad on the other hand never spoke egun to us; he still hasn’t spoken it to me.
The first 17 years of my life I’d say I spoke English basically, I remember when we go to our cousin’s at Nnewi for hols, it was war because they'd speak only igbo and we only English.
Imagine the rude shock I got when I gained admission into the federal university of agriculture, Abeokuta and I found everybody speaking Yoruba. To make matters worse Abeokuta indigenes have their own dialect, egba. I now had the misfortune of having razz Ibadan housemates!
The first 2 weeks, I was on my own and people mistook it for pride, I didn’t understand neither could I speak. With time, I realized that if I had to cope in that town, I had to learn so I settled down and started to adjust my lifestyle. Now I speak Yoruba well but with an accent (I have slight igbo accent). I have also started learning igbo but the problem is that it is awkward speaking any language other than English st home so I try to force my brothers and cousins to speak Yoruba with me. As for egun? The only thing I understand is ’wadunnu’ meaning ‘come and eat’.
Am not really proud of my language defect but I can’t keep blaming my parents for not teaching me.
Now, should parents speak their mother tongue to their children during their formative stage? Or speak English? My view is both! Speak English and speak your language too! Encourage them to hold conversations with you fluently in both and also teach them how to write it.
Schools don’t help either, they be like speak vernacular and pay a fine and am like hello?? Kids have the tendency to overdo things, yes, but we need to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery. Allow them to express themselves while explaining that at school, English is the official medium and stop making it sound like speaking their mother tongue is bad, something that shouldn’t be done. I mean our language is our heritage! At this rate, some languages might go extinct.
Let me quickly chip in the issue of speaking with affectation. If there is something Seyon hates it is speaking with an accent especially people who have never been to domestic airport much more international airport.
I have a friend who is very guilty. I don’t even know if the accent is British, American, South African or confused American. He accuses me of not calling but the truth is each time we talk on the phone I end up saying “pardon” uncountable times. For deuces sake you cannot pick an accent once you are over twelve years old! Please if you want to speak god English master the rules of English especially oral English and stop sounding like you are whining in the name of talking.