Sex is a well-known linguistic variable as identified by scholars in different fields (cf. Cameron 1990, 1992; Coates 1993, 1998; Lakoff 2000; Eckert and McConnell-Ginet 2003; Holmes and Meyerhoff 2004; Huffaker and Calvert 2005; Meyerhoff 2009 and Jiang 2009). A cross-linguistic study of speech differences in some Nigerian communities reveals that there are some recognized outstanding markers of sex in indigenous Nigerian languages as in other languages of the world. Many of these markers (features) as demonstrated in some personal names, proverbs, idiophones, etc. reflect the secondary or second fiddle position of the female in some traditional Nigerian communities. These range from the exploitation of the beauty of the female sex to the projection of respect, honour, strength and superiority of the male sex. Whereas the paper is not advocating for “equal rights” or loss of values through a change in the use of language, it stipulates or states that if a change is to be effected in the way that the female child is viewed or empowered in the society, it may be necessary to start from use of language in the family, particularly in the features investigated.
|Keywords:||Language, Sex, Variation, Change|
Professor, Department of Linguistics and Communications Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Choba, Rrivers, Nigeria
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