A Geolinguistic Survey of the South East Zone of Nigeria
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Nigeria is a linguistically diverse nation and the different indigenous languages spoken in it reflect as much as possible and to a large extent, the different ethnic groups within it. Geographically, the country is divided into six zones (the South South, South East, South West, North East, North Central and North West) and each zone can also be characterized linguistically. This paper, following Udoh
(2004), provides an update on the geolinguistic characterization of the South East Zone, highlighting the linguistic situation of the zone in terms of what linguistic form is spoken where and by which group within it. Findings from the geopolitical survey show that like in most other zones in Nigeria, the dominance of the English language in the South East is practically overwhelming in all domains of language use such as government, administration, education, the media, the judiciary, science and technology, etc. The Nigerian Pidgin English (NPE) is also used as a lingua franca in semi-formal and informal situations/contexts in the zone. The Ìgbò language with its different dialects is the indigenous lingua franca across the zone. Apart from Ìgbò and its various dialects, there are other indigenous Nigerian languages spoken in the zone. These include: Itu Mbo Uso, Anaañ, Ibibio, Efik, Echie, (Abia) Igala (Anambra/Enugu), Okpoto, Ntezi, Korri, Nkomoro, Nsobo, Ofrekpe (Ebonyi), Eteh (Idoma, Enugu), Ikwere, Ogba, Echie (Imo). Thus, from the survey, it is obvious the South East, which is perceived to be ethnically, linguistically and homogenously Ìgbò, still manifests evidence of subtle linguistic diversity especially at border communities around the zone.
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