bySidiqat Olalere-Abdulkareem

Vernacular II



“When I have a child, you won’t talk to her if you don’t speak Yoruba”. These were my words to my little cousin during one of our conversations. She felt really bad about it but I didn’t care how she felt, I just wanted the best for her. I wanted her to be able to speak her native language. For her to be able to identify with where she came from. I knew it wasn’t her fault, but I have to do what I have to do for my best girl.


I always wonder what is wrong with majority of the Nigerian parents living in this country. How could you deprive your child the opportunity of connecting with his/her root? A child having the opportunity to be able to speak his/her mother’s tongue in a foreign country will give them a sense of identity, a sense of connection to their native country.


Some Latino grandmothers go out with their grandchildren as their translators. Every time I come across them, I find it interesting that they do this. The grandchild is able to translate for the grandmother because he/she can speak Spanish. This is a way for the two different generations to bond and learn about each other.


Years ago, when my grandmother needed health insurance, the company insisted they speak with her, but she cannot speak English and the representative on the phone cannot speak Yoruba either. But guess what, the representative had to find another person that can speak Yoruba to speak with my grandmother. What am I saying? Being multilingual, no matter what language, is very lucrative in the United State. I cannot speak for other countries, but it must be the same way. Employers will consider a multilingual person over the one they speak only one language. So why are Nigerian parents depriving their children this privilege?


The funny thing about this language thing is that children end up correcting their parents adulterated, thick accented Nigerian English.



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