Linguists Commend Jehovah’s Witnesses for Preserving African Indigenous Languages



At the recently concluded 34th annual conference of the Linguistics Association of Nigeria hosted in Lokoja, Prof Harrison Adeniyi, Chair of the organizing committee, commended Jehovah’s Witnesses for documenting Nigerian indigenous languages. This is noteworthy because language is one of the most important ways to preserve the culture and identity of any people.

Professor Adeniyi, who has been teaching linguistics at the Lagos State University in Nigeria for over 35 years, was one of the early birds at the Witnesses’ exhibition stand, located just outside the conference hall. He picked a copy of the newly released translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures in Nigerian pidgin, and soon thereafter, he announced to attendees to benefit themselves by visiting the Witnesses’ exhibition stand. “Translating the Bible to Pidgin and Igbo will help the Igbo scholar to know how to work on orthography,” Professor Adeniyi said.

Another visitor to the stand was Dr Gerald Nweya, a senior lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and African Languages at the University of Ibadan. He noted that from his research, he discovered that Watchtower, the organization used by Jehovah’s Witnesses globally had developed helpful content and resources in about 300 African languages and 26 Nigerian languages. He said that the website is one of the best reservoirs of indigenous African languages, and the contents are helpful both for language researchers and the general public.

Another presenter, Dr Tosin Akere, noted: has an unmatched database for Nigerian languages. JW.ORG is faithful to the orthography of the languages. It is only for now that I know has the requisite consistency. The language is simple but not simplistic and it can accommodate all.”

Indeed, about 200 delegates and students visited the Witnesses’ exhibition stand during the 3-day conference of the Linguistics Association of Nigeria held at the old Senate Chambers of the Federal University of Lokoja, Nigeria had the opportunity to pick up literature in both foreign and local Nigerian languages, and received guidance in navigating the website, where digital forms of the literature, as well as music and movies in hundreds of languages, can be found.

The is available to the general public, with contents ranging from health, education, morality, and spirituality available free of charge, without registration, and in about 1,081 languages.

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