The Role of Language and Communication in National Transfromation
The relationship between language and communication in the business of information encoding and dissemination cannot be over looked.Despite the fact that the two concepts are different in meaning, the roles they play are complementary in many ways.
Language is a process by which information can be carried out from one party to another, while communication refers to the chain of activities that make it possible for information, ideas, emotions and experiences to be conveyed from one party to the other.The process of communication starts with the source that first puts the message information in a code or language before it is sent to the receiver.
The major focus of this work is to examine how language and communication agree in achieving effective information delivery for National Transformation. A documentary approach was applied.
It was found out that the issue of language and communication is at the core of national transformation in Nigeria. Some variables that are relevant to this work are examined. These findings led to the conclusion that for Nigeria to move forward in its transformational strides in the 21st century, language and communication must be strengthened at all cost. 1. 0: INTRODUCTION Language plays a very vital role in human society. The language of any human society tells a lot about that society. Therefore, it can be further emphasized that language and communication are inseparable.
In any human society, language and communication occupy a very important seat, more than it appears to all. The functions of language and communication in any human community include the following; expression of thoughts, political, administration, education, social, religious, legislation and so on. It is imperative to note that of all the channels of communication, language is the most important. This is because all other means of communication like gestures and signs are only needful in the face-to-face circumstance.
Language plays a vital role in this and still remains the most effective means of communication. Through language and communication, we can see the heart of a people. This implies that language makes it possible to express feelings, emotions, views, ideas, opinions, perceptions, as well as judgment about people, objects, places, things, information and situations, Obuh and Omenogor (2012). 2. 0: WHAT IS LANGUAGE? Language is a viable implement used by man for the purpose of communication. It is human-specific and this differentiates man from other creatures.
Language has contributed enormously to the great transformation of our society politically, religiously, socially and economically. For the sake of this paper, we need a definition of language. There is a plethora of definitions of the concept of language. Sapir (1963) asserts that: “language is the key to the heart of a people” this means that language is a purely human and non-instinctive type of communication. Moreso, Moulton (1974), sees language as: “a wonderful and rich vehicle of communication, which is: expression of ideas, wishes, commands, conveyance of truths and lies. He also said that only human beings have the attribute of sending and receiving an unlimited number of messages. This implies that language is a feature common to human beings. Haugen (1974) explains language as: “a man’s most distinctive and significant type of social behaviour… learned anew by every child. ” Language and communication are inseparably linked in the heart of a people. According to Allen and Corder (1973:27), “language is purely a human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of voluntarily produced symbols”.
Hall (1980:16) defines language as: “the institutions where by humans communicate and interact with each other by means of habitually used oral auditory symbols”. Bolinger (1975:14), views language as: “a system of vocal-auditory communication interacting with the experiences of its users, employing conventional signs composed of arbitrarily patterned sound units and assembled according to set rules”. In another development, Essien (1998:2) sees language as: A system of structured arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which human beings make meaning nd communicate with each other in a given community…. These definitions recognize the communicative role of language which is specifically used by human beings for the purpose of interaction. By implication, language is in essence a perfect means of expression among every known people. It is important to note that language determines the world-view of a people. It is the connection between language and communication in information delivery for national transformation that is the fulcrum of this discourse.
In as much as human beings use language, communication remains its primary target. 2. 1: FUNCTIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF LANGUAGE These can be seen as some special qualities and role that are common to a typical human language. Human language is used in a number of functions and topmost among which is communication. In the same vein, language is known with the following properties: LANGUAGE IS A LIVING PHENOMENON: This is attributed to a language because language just like other creatures can be ‘born’, ‘grow’, and ‘die’. Creating a language is like giving birth to a language.
A language grows when it undergoes a kind of structural and semantic expansion. A language dies when it is no longer used or spoken by any group of people in any part of the world as a means of communication. IT IS ARBITRARY: This implies that there is no logic or reasonable resemblance between words and expressions of a given language and their basic meanings or what they stand for. Example, “the spoon is in the cup on the table” does not logically look like what it means because of the arbitrariness of each of its constituents parts.
In the same vein, human language is conventional. This is closely related to the arbitrariness of language, because a language is conventional in the sense that its meaningful usage is based on general opinion, consent, knowledge or acceptability of its various speakers Oluga (2006) EVERY LANGUAGE IS RULE GOVERNED: This means that the acceptable and correct use of a giving language is usually guided at the various linguistic levels by set of an operating rules and principles called ‘Grammar’.
Every language has its own grammar which may not be the same with those of other languages and any deviation from such grammatical rules will render language use ungrammatical. IT IS SYMBOLIC: This means that language also involves the use of various symbols which invariably aids comprehension of the meaning of language. However, symbols may or may not be physical. It is not physical if what is meant is the mental image already pictured in the language users’ mind which comes to mind whenever the signifier is mentioned.
LANGUAGE IS PURELY HUMAN: The school of thought who advocates these characteristics are those who believe in the incomparability of the human language. To them, language is one of the main distinctive features by which human beings can be identified, hence, it is only the human means of communication that is highly complex and developed and which can explain virtually everything that they identify as language. LANGUAGE IS COMPLEX BUT FLEXIBLE: Language complexity means that language is made up of various, but logical related, constituent parts that can be properly combined to express unlimited ideals.
While language flexibility means that language is not an unreasonably rigid source of communication but one that can be modified in various ways to express various ideas. One can even say something and mean the opposite of what one says and yet the intended meaning of one’s message would be understood. LANGUAGE IS EITHER ACCQUIRED OR LEARNT: Here, human beings are not born with language though the ability to speak language is inherent in them; hence, no child starts to speak a language as soon as he/she is born.
A language is either informally acquired from childhood through an unconscious process or formally learnt through a conscious learning process or in a formal learning setting like the language class. However, acquisition of language is peculiar to mother tongue while, learning proper is peculiar to other languages other than the mother tongue. It is also expedient to note that an already acquired language usually influences or impedes learning and competency in the second language usage. From the above, it is obvious that language is an essential part of human beings which they use for communication purpose.
Therefore, every nation that wishes to have a meaningful transformation, must take the issue of its language very seriously. Nigeria is a typical example of a country that has not been taken the issue of language very seriously and this is part of the reasons for our backwardness in National Transformation. 2. 2: LANGUAGE AND NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION Transformation has to do with a complete change, usually into something with an improved appearance or usefulness. Transformation implies that there is an improvement of the well-being of the people.
Transformation can be seen from two major angles, that is: from human and physical. For human, transformation should be seen in raising the levels of their living standard in terms of good income. Physical transformation is an aspect of transformation that does not necessarily change the living standard of the people like building skyscrapers, modern expressways and so on. Many people are poor because they cannot assume their citizens basic necessities of life. National Transformation is the growth of the nation in terms of unity, education and so on.
It involves a coordinated and concentrated transformation of all aspects of the society, Elugbe (1990) as quoted by Okoye and Okafor (2011). For National Transformation and social changes to take a positive stand, the government should share most of her favourable policies to her target audience through the accessible mediums with acceptable language. The economic transformation of any nation also helps to define its transformational processes. As it is, the process of industrialization entails a background study of the nature of the environment and its suitability for the industry.
This cannot be achieved without the use of language to transmit the ideas to the people concerned Unegbu (2011). The unity of a nation has to do with the need for the various ethnic groups in that nation to see themselves as one. It is certain that Nigeria as a nation is a geographical entity that is made up of several different groups ordinarily unrelated. I stand to said that there cannot be real national unity and transformation without a strong and genuine linguistic policy that is geared towards uniting the country 3. 0: WHAT IS COMMUNICATION?
Communication is the process of sharing ideas, feelings, thoughts and messages with others. The heart of communication is the dissemination of effective messages to the audience and this may involve writing, speaking, gestures, disposition and facial expressions, among others. Communication has been given several definitions by various scholars. For instance, Little (1965:4) defines communication as: “a process by which information is passed among individuals and organizations by means of previously agreed symbols”. Lyons (1965:32) views it as “an intentional transmission of information by means of some established signaling system”.
Book, et al (1980:8) sees communication as “… a transactional symbolic process which allows people to relate and manage their environment by establishing human contact, exchanging information, re-enforcing the attitudes and behaviours of others and changing the attitudes and behaviours of others. By these definitions, communication therefore is a means of touching others through sharing of information in agreed system. 3. 1: FORMS OF COMMUNICATION Forms of communication have been derived for the sake of convenience to simplify the process of communication.
Communication is very vital to keep the environment healthy and peaceful. Imagine a world where no one understands one another. Wouldn’t it be chaotic? Think about it. Communication of information, messages, opinions, speech and thoughts can be done through different forms of modern communication media, like Internet, Telephone and Mobile. Some of the basic ways of communication are by speaking, singing, sign language, body language, touch and eye contact. These basic ways of communication are used to transfer information and for the sake of this paper it shall be narrowed down into four: ?
First is verbal communication, it is essentially the type of communication which uses words. It uses sounds in addition to the language, gestures and body language, while communicating. Verbal communication helps in expressing thoughts, emotions and sentiments. A phone conversation, chat with a friend, an announcement made or a speech delivered are all verbal forms of communication. For most of us, it comes with ease. As children, we learned verbal communication through the sounds around us. We soon develop and start understanding the language which helps us to communicate verbally as we grow older. Another is non-verbal communication. It is a process of communication without using words or sounds. Non-verbal communication uses gestures, body language, facial expressions, eye contact, clothing, hairstyles and every part of the body to communicate with the audience. Dances or a gesture made by a mother to a child, are the perfect examples of non-verbal communication. ?Written communication is another form. This is where you write the words which you want to communicate. Good written communication is essential for business purposes. Written communication is practiced in many different languages.
E-mails, reports, articles and memos are some of the ways of using written communication in business. The written communication can be edited and amended many times before it is communicated to the second party to whom the communication is intended. This is one of the main advantages of using writing as the major means of communication in business activity. Written communication is used not only in business but also for informal communication purposes. Mobile SMS is an example of informal written communication see Daramola (2003). ?Fourthly is oral communication. This is the communication process conducted through spoken words.
Oral communication is defined as the effective interpretation, composition, and presentation of information, ideas, and values to a specific audience. In today’s world, the emergences of different forms of media have led to the communication process through different channels like telephones, tele-conferences, video conferences and what have you. Earlier, face-to-face meetings and speeches were the only forms of communication see also Daramola (2003). 3. 2: CHARACTERISTICS OF COMMUNICATION According to Daramola (2003), the characteristics of communication are as follows: oCommunication is dynamic, not static. It is continuous since there is no beginning and end to it in person’ life oIt is a complete process as it occurs at many levels and reflects many influences. oIt is irreversible. Once any message is sent and received, it produces effect on later messages. oIt is non sequential in that the elements are not rigidly patterned in a linear or circular manner. 3. 3: COMMUNICATION AND NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION National Transformation in Nigeria is a phenomenon that has so many meanings to different people though, all gear towards enhancing the living standard of the masses.
Society as a whole cannot survive if the people are not properly informed of the way forward. And communication constitutes one of the instruments that precedes the education and re-education of the people providing changes in the society. Communication is a way of relaying a lot of information to a large segment of people. In communicating with the people, there is the communicator, the message, channel and the audience. As an ingredient for the advancement of the society, communication maintains a constant link between the people and National Transformation.
The main purpose of communication is to create awareness to the public. Communication is the live wire for growth and transformation. It does not only eradicate ignorance and apathy, it aids to create awareness about happenings in the society. Lack of communication can lead to a total breakdown of activities in a society. Communication brings about freedom of speech and ideas. It gives everyone the privilege to participate in the formation of public matters. It keeps one abreast about transformational agenda and widens ones wealth of knowledge Unegbu (2011).
Nigerian government need to use communication to help socio-economic and political advancement of the country and this will assist to mobilize the people towards the attainment of National Transformation of the country. With the use of communication and language, the government will be able to reach out to her numerous audiences in her policies and programmes. The aim at improving the standard of living of the masses, raising their consciousness towards protection and the defense of the nation for national interest cannot be achieved without proper communication. . 0: RECOMMENDATION The following recommendations may serve in improving the role language and communication plays in National Transformation. 1. Effort should be doubled at the teaching and learning of language and communication to meet international standards. 2. Education policy makers should make language and communication a compulsory course for all disciplines at the high education level in Nigeria. This will assist every graduate (no matter his/her area of specialization) to acquire standard language and communication skills. . The teaching of language and communication should be more intensive. This implies that more hours should be allocated to language and communication class in our schools. 4. Teachers of language and communication should be trained and re-trained to enable them cope with the complexities involved in the teaching of the course. 5. 0: CONCLUSION Communication involves the use of language to pass information, transact, and exchange ideas and expressions of thought. This implies that, language is a fundamental symbol to communication.
Language is not a natural instinct; it is acquired or learnt through the effective social stages like the family, peer-group and ethnic group. Man as a social and communicative animal must live, associate and interact with people in the society to achieve personal aspirations. All these is greatly enhanced and facilitated by effective communication. This paper has looked at language and communication in Nigerian environment as one of the ways of enhancing National Transformation. The point is that Nigeria as a country should develop language and communication to a level that every user can effectively and adequately handle it.
This is in view of the fact that the Nigerians must be prepared for the challenges of international environment since transformation is not just something that is limited to within the boundaries of a given nation-state or country. The life of a nation will be short-circuited and meaningless without language and communication. Sustained communication is therefore made possible through language.