Philip's research investigates the impact of language policy on education and languages and cultures of northern Nigeria’s marginal societies in danger of disappearing.
Philip Hayab John
The Necessity to Study Minority Languages
My research focus on the role of language in everyday social interaction was predicated upon the realisation that whenever linguists talk about languages in Nigeria, the minority linguistic groups like Hyam of north-central Nigeria are often omitted or at even ignored. Hence, the key to my study is that language transmits culture, whereas self-motivated reading makes one gain self-study skills. Besides the point that language competence was essential for any meaningful communication to be achieved, the emphasis is to preserve dying languages as well as sustain proficiency in the European languages spoken across Africa.
As foreign languages are the medium of instruction in schools, commerce, and governance in Africa, my research underlines that Africans need to raise awareness of the impending death their languages face. Besides, there was an urgent need to promote literacy in minority languages to save them from loss. Consequently, the revitalisation of endangered languages inspired my doctoral study on the minority languages of Nigeria, with emphasis on Hyam, my mother tongue.
Recently, my attention has turned to an open-access African Storybook project, available at www.africanstorybook.org. The objective of the project is to accentuate the obligation to train teachers to access and employ illustrative storybooks in English, French, Twi, Hyam, IsiXhosa, Sesotho, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, and in every African language to kindle interest in the languages that are barely written. Unwritten languages are disappearing due to the inferior status often accorded them in comparison to the Europeans languages spoken in Africa.