Several decades ago, from the pre-colonial to the earliest part of the post-colonial era, individuals were accorded respect on the basis of certain cultural values such as high sense of moral standing, wisdom, custodianship of truth and knowledge of tradition, martial skills for war, holding of titles, and wealth which is largely determined by having large expanse of lands, yam barns, and herds of goats. Contrastively, this is not the case in our contemporary times, with the advent of Western education and the dominance of the white man’s culture and its associated language, the English language. A lot of scholars have extolled the role of English language as a unifying force in Nigeria, but little attention has been directed to the cons and disservices done to our cultural values vis-a-vis social respectability in Nigeria. Apart from the idolization of materialism in the country, a good command of English language is a prime prerequisite for social recognition. The paper therefore seeks to ascertain if this yardstick of good command of English is adequate for measuring individual’s acceptability, and respect in society, especially amongst the elites. The work tries to investigate this using the qualitative research of Sapir-Whorfian theory of language. It was discovered that even though a good command of English can earn an individual respectability in social circles, even on the global scene, it does not guarantee an outstanding personality since there are more enduring traits such as integrity and high moral values, which should mark a celebrated personality.
Literacy refers to the ability to read and write. The ability to read and write English language accords one a literate status in Nigeria. Apart from attaining a level of mastery of English language through the academic institution, from the primary, secondary to the tertiary level of education, one can also attain proficiency in English language through the undaunted task of applying oneself to studying the language by learning its vocabularies and the rules that govern the acceptable use of the language.
Because of the premium placed on good command of English for social acceptability and respect in the Nigerian society, some miscreants have tried to have their way in several fraudulent activities by maintaining a good posture of impeccable English, complemented by good dress style. Most Nigerians have fallen prey to some of these scammers in the society, which include ‘half-baked elites’, greedy politicians, internet scammers, kidnappers, and 419ners, to mention a few. Looking at it from another angle, Ezekeke (2013) asserts that when a man is stripped off his language, his identity is also taken along with it. The questions then are: ‘Is good command of English language enough to accord someone social respectability in the Nigerian society? Are there other enduring values that should form the basis for respectability and honorability in the Nigerian society? Theseare the concerns of this study.
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