Resilience of Awka Dialectical Form in the Igbo Linguistic Landscape: Lessons for Language Socialization and Preservation

Author: Ignatius Uche Nwankwo (Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria)
Speaker: Ignatius Uche Nwankwo
Topic: Anthropological Linguistics
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


The Igbo linguistic landscape is core to the cultural climate of Southeast region of Nigeria, extending to parts of South-South region. As a vehicle of communication, Igbo language has several dialectical forms such as Owerri, Onitsha, Abakaliki, Awka and Asaba variants. This paper discusses the resilient and unadulterated nature of Awka variant, over the years, and the contributory factors. It notes that despite new status of Awka as a state capital and mega urban cultural center with massive lodgment of people of diverse backgrounds, yet Awka dialectical form of Igbo language has remained largely uncorrupted and virile. Issues of return migration, introduction of new technologies and multi-modalities have failed to produce cultural mixing adequate to influence re-styling of the original language, either to new generation options or to complex linguistic anthropology and cultural climate as is often the norm in most of Africa. This departure emphasize that indeed, framing of language and birth of new speech communities are only possible in instances of weak and non resilient traditional language forms. The level of resilience of Awka dialectical form in the Igbo linguistic landscape constitute rich lessons for language socialization and preservation. Awka people have shown a good example in consistently using, transmitting and holding on to their original brand of Igbo language for their social activities despite influx of migrants. Accordingly, the migrants on arrival, feel the compelling need to acculturate into the local language tradition as a key to smooth social functioning and goal attainment. All these have sustained and boosted the posterity of Awka dialectical form in the Igbo language landscape to the admiration of scholars who now advocate duplication of the Awka trend in areas where local language encounter risk extinction.

Keywords: Awka, cultural climate, Igbo linguistic landscape, dialectical form, language socialization, resilience.