“We Have Been Brought Up To Believe That Our Language Is Inferior” – Prof Sophie Oluwole Laments the Slow Death of Our Local Languages




A Professor of African philosophy Prof Sophie Oluwole has  explained the reason and risks behind the decline in the use of our native languages in our everyday lives.

In an interview with, she noted that the reason most of us don’t speak our languages is because we have been brought up to see them as inferior. She explained that “The credibility of being a civilized person is that you must speak English. English is the language of the civilized.” This is why our languages are called Vernacular- The language of the primitive people

This view that is embedded in our minds from a young age translates into a snobbish attitude towards the language.

To further explain this phenomenon she gives the example of a Yoruba professor with erroneous notions about Yoruba language.

“A professor wrote that the Yoruba people do not have a word for Mathematics. I know they do- Isiro. And he is a Yoruba man. Isiro means addition. After we criticized him at the conference, he changed it .He said addition, subtraction, those are the four law of mathematics so how can he say we do not have a term. In the same paper, he said we should not try to translate English to Yoruba, for example Television. The Yoruba translation of television is amohunmaworan. He said that’s a very poor translation and now my question is- what is the meaning of television in English? I speak a little of German, Tele means distant, Vision means seen at a distance and that is how the Germans translate it. Is that the meaning of television? Are you just seeing at a distance? So when Yorubas say amohunmaworan . Isn’t that more comprehensive and he says that one but this hatred and idea that Yoruba language is primitive- what is the evidence”

She also question the rationale behind teaching being taught in English

“My worry is there is no culture in the word. German is the language of education, France, Britain. Why is your own different?”

She ended by saying that we are committing suicide by not speaking our languages.


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