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Linguists commend Jehovah’s Witnesses for documenting, preserving Africa’s indigenous languages

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  • November 11, 2023
  • 2 min read
Linguists commend Jehovah’s Witnesses for documenting, preserving Africa’s indigenous languages

By Editor

AT the recently concluded 34th annual conference of the Linguistics Association of Nigeria hosted in Lokoja, chair of the organizing committee, Prof. Harrison Adeniyi, commended Jehovah’s Witnesses for documenting Nigerian indigenous languages. This is noteworthy, he said, because language is one of the most important ways to preserve the culture and identity of any people. Professor Adeniyi, who has been teaching linguistics at the Lagos State University in Nigeria for over 35 years, was one of the early birds at the Witnesses’ exhibition stand, located just outside the conference hall. He picked a copy of the newly released translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures in Nigerian pidgin, and thereafter, he announced to attendees to avail themselves of the opportunity of visiting the Witnesses’ exhibition stand.

“Translating the Bible to Pidgin and Igbo will help the Igbo scholar to know how to work on orthography,” Professor Adeniyi said.

Another visitor to the stand was a senior lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and African Languages at the University of Ibadan, Dr. Gerald Nweya. He noted that from his research, he discovered that Watchtower, the magazine used by Jehovah’s Witnesses globally has developed helpful content and resources in about 300 African languages and 26 Nigerian languages. He said that the jw.org website is one of the best reservoirs of indigenous African languages, and the contents are helpful both for language researchers and the general public.

Conferees of Linguistics Association of Nigeria at Jehovah’s Wtnesses’ stand

Another presenter, Dr. Tosin Akere, noted that “jw.org has an unmatched database for Nigerian languages. JW.ORG is faithful to the orthography of the languages. It is only jw.org for now that I know has the requisite consistency. The language is simple but not simplistic and it can accommodate all.”

Indeed, about 200 delegates and students visited the Witnesses’ exhibition stand during the 3-day conference of the Linguistics Association of Nigeria held at the old Senate Chambers of the Federal University of Lokoja, Nigeria. They had the opportunity to pick up literature in both foreign and local Nigerian languages, and received guidance in navigating the jw.org website, where digital forms of the literatures, as well as music and movies in hundreds of languages, can be found.

The jw.org is available to the general public, with contents ranging from health, education, morality, and spirituality available free of charge, without registration, and in about 1,081 languages.

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