Multilingualism and the ethnic identity of the Ette people
AbstractDue to their diverse nature, the classification of indigenous languages in Nigeria ranks some of them as major, main and small group languages. The Ette people speak two main, and one major, Nigerian languages namely: Idoma, Igala and Igbo respectively. This paper sets out to examine the Ette people in the light of their ethnic identity and also to ascertain which of the languages spoken has the highest percentage with regard to its status and level of proficiency. Primary data were collected from native speakers of Ette resident in Igboeze North Local Government Area of Enugu State using Phinney’s (1999) Ethnic Identity measure questionnaire. The findings show that the Idoma language has the highest percentage with regard to language proficiency and use, followed by Igala and then Igbo which is also spoken in Ette perhaps because it shares border with Enugu and Kogi States. The paper in discussing the relationship of language and identity observes that language does not mark the ethnic identity of the Ette people because of their multilingual nature. Also, the geographical location which situates them in other ethnic groups does not give them a sense of belonging. This has resulted to different forms of agitations.
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