Lexical Borrowing and Language Endangerment: A Case of The TIV Language
Language gives identity to a people and makes them a speech community, thereby defining their culture. It is their means of initiating and propagating development; it therefore means that without language that is peculiar to a people, it becomes difficult for them to forge ahead with the development of their society. However, because language communities co-exist and their strengths and numbers are not equal, some languages that are stronger than others begin to dominate them when they come into contact or co-exist. This dominance could gradually lead to language endangerment and possibly extinction of the weaker language. This is the case between the Hausa language and the Tiv language in the middle belt region of Nigeria, where Tiv language speakers tend to borrow lexical items from the Hausa language. The current study involved oral interviews with adult native speakers of the Tiv language, as well as reviewed reports, journal articles and books written on the subject matter under study. The study explored the extent of lexical borrowing by the Tiv language from the Hausa language and discovered that the Tiv language has borrowed lexical items significantly from the Hausa language. The borrowing is based on the fact that the Tiv language has no lexical equivalents of the borrowed words in its lexicon, or that the speakers of Tiv language have over time adopted such Hausa words because of their knowledge of Hausa language. The danger here is that borrowed lexical items from Hausa have come to replace some Tiv words, making them to gradually go extinct, thereby endangering the Tiv language. The study concludes that the trend of Hausa words gradually replacing Tiv words is worrisome, and calls for intensified studies to ensure that the Tiv language is protected from domination by the Hausa language, to prevent extinction of the language in the future.
Keywords - Language, Lexical borrowing, Tiv language, endangerment.