The Multilingual Furore – Josh Journal
A common requirement when recruiting is for prospective candidates to be multilingual. For some openings, this is of utmost importance, so much that non-multilingual candidates need not apply.
It is that big a deal.
For years, when the word multilingual is used by Nigerians, they often mean speaking English, along with another “international” language.
Maybe French, Portuguese, Italian, German, Mandarin, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.
These languages were exalted, while languages native to Nigeria and the African continent as a whole, were looked down on.
It is so severe that you could be punished and fined for speaking any Nigerian language in primary and secondary school. Meanwhile, schools were recruiting teachers to teach French and more recently, Mandarin.
When in recent years, due to higher Nigerian born and descendant citizens, the Metropolitan Police in London, and their NYPD counterparts across the pond began factoring in the ability of applicants to speak Igbo and Yoruba, many Nigerians began having second takes.
Apparently, Nigerian languages are worthy of respect too. Who would have thought?
Have you met a European, American, or Asian who can speak a Nigerian language? Or Nigerian pidgin?
Do you notice the sense of pride with which they speak it? Can you tell how much they are in a hurry to display their ability?
If you ask such a person if they are multilingual, what do you think their answer would be?
And if you ask a Nigerian who speaks English and their native language if they are multilingual, what do you think their response will be?
I speak English better than most English people do. If we are being honest, most Nigerians, or at least, Lagosians with secondary school education speak better English than their British-born counterparts.
Listen to them talk on call-in programs for sports, and other YouTube videos. Here entertainers and celebs there talk too.
If you still don’t me, present to me one British or American that speaks more articulate English than the late Sadiq Daba or Chinua Achebe.
Or do you want to put them up against Wole Soyinka, Chimamanda Adichie, or Ama Ata Aidoo?
Despite that we speak more English than our native languages, and we speak English better than they do, we are still the ones who have to write IELTS and TOEFL before going to their countries.
Meanwhile, once Jack and Jill from London can say “bawo ni?” they’ll add “multilingual” to their CV.
I don’t know about you, but I know I am multilingual. In fact, I am a polyglot.
I speak English, Yoruba, Benin, Ishan, and Pidgin English. If you have a problem with me throwing multilingual and polyglot into my CV, then you can schedule a bout with me at the National Stadium.