By Ozioruva Aliu – Benin City
A cleric Pita Onaivi has expressed fear that local dialects in Nigeria may go into extinction of urgent steps were not taken to address the dominance of English language over local dialects.
He expressed this fear in Igarra, Akoko-Edo local government area at the formal dedication of the Etuno New Testament Bible (Otoowo Owooda).
Onaivi who is the Coordinator, Etuno Language Development and Bible Translation Project, said it was the fear that the Etuno language may go into extinction
that formed part of the reason for the translation of the New Testament Bible into the local language.
He said “When I was told by a friend that language without its dictionary was going into extinction, the idea of preserving the Etuno language became a burden upon me.
“I was intrigued when I was told that Etuno language could best be preserved through the translation of the Bible into Etuno language,” he stated.
Also speaking, Bishop of the Akoko – Edo Diocese of Anglican Communion, Rev. Jolly Oyekpen, said the translation of the Bible into Etuno language would enhance the understanding of the Bible by the indigenes of Etuno.
According to him, “With it too, more souls will be brought into the fold of Christ Jesus. And because the Etuno Bible is being launched and dedicated today, it will go beyond Igarra and Akoko – Edo.
“It will reach anywhere an Etuno person is in the world thereby internationalising it like the Bible in English language.”
On his part, the chairman of the translation team said that the aim was to ensure that God speaks to the people in their mother tongue.
“The Bible is better understood when read in one’s local language, It will also be very helpful to interpreters and lay readers in churches. Moreover, people derive greater blessing when they read the Bible in their mother tongue.
“Secondly, we observed that the Etuno language is under threat by Yoruba and Igbira languages spoken around us; even worse is the English language which has already overwhelmed the generality of the Etuno people.
“It became a concern to us that both old and young can no longer say the shortest phrase in Etuno language without mixing it with English, Yoruba or Igbira,” he pointed out.
On his part, Executive Director, Nigeria Bible Translation Trust, Dr Yakubu La’ah said that the translation would have positive influence in the lives of the people of Etuno.