African Indigenous Languages and the Advancement of African Philosophy

By Eyo, Emmanuel Bassey; Ibanga, Diana-Abasi | Journal of Pan African Studies, November 15, 2018 | Go to article overview

African Indigenous Languages and the Advancement of African Philosophy


Eyo, Emmanuel Bassey, Ibanga, Diana-Abasi, Journal of Pan African Studies


Introduction

There are contentions among philosophers of language and philosophers of mind on the distinction between philosophy of language and language of philosophy. This contention is perennial in most researches and scholarly advancement in African philosophy, which implies that language is important to philosophical discourse. This is because in the study and development of philosophy, language plays a major role as a vehicle of philosophical reasoning pattern. Loveday presents Aristotle's postulation on language as that which expresses our thought and reality.

Language is important because knowledge does not consist of a mute
mystical insight, but in the ability to discourse intelligently about
the world. Language must have the same structure as thought, for how
else could we put our thought into word (Loveday, 72).

The importance of language as a vehicle of thought and as expression of reality has also been emphasized by Martin Heidegger. In fact, Heidegger (2000) views language as that which makes thought and that which reveals reality (or being) in its most authentic form.

... and we seek to win back intact the naming force of language and
words; for words and language are not just shells into which things are
packed for spoken and written intercourse. In the word, in language,
things first come to be and are (Heidegger 2000, p. 15).

Correct use of language is critical, Heidegger says, if one must describe reality in its most authentic form. And to do this, one must go back to the indigenous usage of the concepts through which reality is described. It was for this reason that Heidegger began his analysis of being by examining the concept in the indigenous language of the ancient Greek philosophers.

In African philosophical tradition, recourse is not conceded to the need to use African indigenous languages as a fundamental instrument in the development and advancement of African philosophy. The major argument against the necessity to produce African philosophy in African indigenous languages is aptly presented in the assertion below.

Language is human non-instinctual act which is learnt. It is a means of
communicating ideas and thought: for language to be meaningful it must
follow laid down rule of structure. It must be composed of words which
in turn are put into sentences expressing some thought (Ozumba 2004,
p.18).

This excerpt of Ozumba opens up the problem of non-usage of African indigenous language in the advancement of African philosophy. The argument is that African philosophy can be done in any language, since language is learnt. This is the starting point of my argument in this paper. Is it possible for the philosopher to present the picture of reality as he sees it, in the language other than that which is immediate to him? Addressing this problem is critical to the development and advancement of African philosophy in the 21st century.

Language and Meaning

Language and meaning are critical to the development of philosophy. Language is a system of words that communicate certain meaning. Language and meaning are intrinsically interrelated; there cannot be language without associative meaning. Godfrey Ozumba (2018) defines language as "strings of words arranged syntactically and semantically for the sole purpose of communicating ideas, thoughts, moods, and for explaining action or inaction" (p.2). This means that language is a system that contains notion or symbols which allows a person to describe a phenomenon, perform an action, inform an audience and explain a thing. But language can also lead to misinformation and misdirection of another deliberately or otherwise (Essien 2010). That is why Emmanuel Eyo (2008) avers that language should be used in its correct logical context in other to communicate the intended meanings. Using language in its correct logical context goes beyond mere logical placement of phrases and logical connectives as was advocated by the logical atomists; it has to do with the ideas or thoughts that are embedded in it. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

African Indigenous Languages and the Advancement of African Philosophy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.