Sunday, 15 June 2014

My first language

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.
Thoughts?

23 comments:

  1. hehehe.....I dunno why our parents do this - My Mom didn't speak Swahili to us till we were bout 10...we all spoke English at home and when it was time to teach us, she came up with a crazy idea...'Nisha, tell me bout yourself in Swahili'......She got it coming mehn!!...I wanted to say - 'I will be keeping my body for the Lord till marriage' and I ended up saying 'I the lord is raping till marriage'....Good for her right?... Blessed Sunday to you mami...

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    1. Lmfao Lmaooooo ernie you're something else. Now that we aren't fluent in our mother tongue, what will we teach our kids?
      Happy Sunday sugar!

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  2. Hahahah...eish i get it when you say confused accent. A friend of mine went to the US for a month and came back saying chapatai instead of chapati!! seriously, who on earth even says chapatai!!!!!!!!!!...eish any way we have always spoke swahili at home, infact i had problems speaking english. I think we should balance it and should all know how to speak our mother tongue.....i love the pos.

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    1. Martha is back :-)
      It's just too bad we find ourselves in this situation dear.
      Am jealous of your proficiency in your mother tongue!

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  3. Very interesting topic - I think parents should speak both English and their mother tongue to children in their formative years. Growing up, both parents spoke both English and Igbo to me, and I'm very grateful because I'm very fluent. Amaka, God bless you for writing about people that put on a fake accent and that you cannot pick up an accent once you reach a certain age. It's infuriately when people fake different accents - One minute you have a British accent, the next you are talking like an akata. My belief is that once you are over 8 years, you can't pick up an accent. If you have an undiluted Ibo accent at 8, forever you will have an undiluted Ibo accent!!!

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    1. My dear am happy for you oh. The accent thing is so annoying. They don't know that if they talk to whites with their stupid accent,they won't understand them either!

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  4. Oh Amaka I no what it feels like, I had the same challenge. But trust me I catch up with both tongue. I started speaking my dad dialect and for mum that one dey my blood haha. Coupled with some other international language. Its very crucial and necessary parent let their children learn about their dialect. Because dialect are already going extinct.
    Thanks for this post...... Amaka

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    1. Hey b, where have you been? Wow am jealous oh!

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  5. Hmmm Mum and Dad are Igbo! Dad has never spoken Igbo to me or any of my siblings! The only time he does that is when he calls our native names (which doesn't count)! Mum on the other hand speaks Igbo to us most times, but it's not the normal igbo o... It's her dialect's igbo (really weird). And we understand it very well, but we aint fluent (we hardly make a complete sentence without stuttering). Then the normal igbo, we all had to start learning on our own. Now we understand it very well but we can't speak fluently. (You'd laugh when you hear us speak)*sigh* I can't blame nobody though! #doctorbobby

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    1. I really want to hear you speak. Uhm, stop playing hide and seek with me oh! Where have you been?

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    2. Lol... Whoever sees this now will say ah! Amaka must have been looking for him for a long long time! Alright lemme ping/call you #doctorbobby

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    3. Uhm maybe I have. I've not really been in the right frame of mind to call you.

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  6. I learnt yoruba too after relocating to abeokuta cos of my neighbours. As for my native dialect, I'm still learning the act of communicating with it though my parents are from same LGA. it wasn't their fault that I didn't learn sha.





    @iMannie_

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    1. Those abeokuta people are great people oh! You should learn please

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  7. I agree with parents speaking bout English and native language. My case is so similar to yours and you can imagine that at this my age I am still battling with speaking Yoruba fluently.

    They call me omo Ibo self. Lmao

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    1. Lmaooooo. Ikr? Try to learn Dayo! Very important

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  8. Parents should communicate with kids using english and english esp at the early stage. Emphasis to the english, when the english is sound you chip in the native language. Dats my opinion because you won't write with your native language in school. I just feel it ruins some peoples communication skills when engrossed in it.
    www.tosyne101.wordpress.com

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    1. It doesn't honey. My mum speaks igbo fluently, same with English

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  9. You this girl ehen, you dey craze o.....lol @'I have a friend who is very guilty. I don’t even know if the accent is British, American, South African or confused American'. Me, i can't really speak my language thanks to my parents. Even my grandma used to speak English to us. I can understand enough so that no one sells me but to speak 5 sentences at a stretch is impossible. I have been hoping i can get a learning cd to improve but where would i get that one. As for my children, even if i marry an American i would look for a teacher for them they must learn yoruba by force!

    www.journalofapetitediva.blogspot.com

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    1. Lool my yoruba is better than yours

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  10. This is so true. My parents never spoke yoruba to I and my siblings until I was in Senior school. My dad just started taking it so serious that he had to make a rule 'If i speak english or yoruba, you must reply in yoruba, do you hear me' But still I can't speak yoruba oh. It's not easy at all oh. Imagine me saying 'mu' instead of 'gbe'. Mo fe gbe isu instead I would say Mo fe mu isu. Most times, i feel yoruba is so complicated, too many rules here and there. When my friends are gisting in yoruba, i understand but to contribute is a no go area for me because I would make them laugh ehn. At some point i had to download videos on Youtube just to learn how to. I sound like an Igbo girl, infact what i"m i saying, Igbo people speak better than I do *covers face*. It's so shameful but what can I do, to prevent the same happening to my children, would take them over to my parents when they are quite little so they get to speak it. I'm still learning everyday cos I dont want my future in-laws to laugh at me oh. I am a proud yoruba girl and I must speak yoruba better #gbam
    p.s: sorry for the long comment
    http://www.leeznijis.blogspot.com - check my blog out

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    1. No worries dear, thanks for visiting and commenting.
      It's not too late to learn though.

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