A Cross-linguistic Study: Sex and Language Variation in Selected Nigerian Communities

By Shirley Yul-Ifode.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp.203-218. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 901.019KB).

Shirley Yul-Ifode

Professor, Department of Linguistics and Communications Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Choba, Rrivers, Nigeria

Shirley Yul-Ifode is a Professor of Basic and Applied Phonetics/Phonology in Child Language and Communication Disorders in the Department of Linguistics and Communication Studies of the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. In addition to her numerous articles and books in the above areas, she has pioneered research and projects on Child Language and Communication Disorders in Nigeria. Outside academics, she preaches the Christian gospel. She is happily married with four adult children.

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