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LANGUAGE VARIATION AND SHAPING ETHNIC IDENTITY

LANGUAGE VARIATION AND SHAPING ETHNIC IDENTITY

 

Abstract

The effort of the researchers in this work was to examine the language variations as medium of ethnic identity of Anaañ people in Akwa Ibom State and also ascertain the factors responsible for these varieties and suggest possible strategic solutions that would foster language standardization that will accommodate contemporary issues. In order to achieve the objective of the study, the researchers adopted a stratified random sampling method to conduct interview for Anaañ indigence residents in the eight local government areas of Annan land. More so, to find out the language varieties available in Anaañ language, the researchers used the Ibadan 400 wordlist and three sentences to interview nine persons in each of the eight local government areas of Akwa Ibom State. The key informants were traditional chiefs, businessmen, secondary school teachers ranging from the age forty to seventy-five years. The informants were asked to pronounce the items in the wordlist in their respective varieties and it was transcribed directly and also, all the data collected were subjected to comparative analysis. The study concluded that

 

Keywords:  Language; Variations; Ethnic; Identity; Annan

 

Introduction

Language variation has remained a prominent theme in sociolinguistic enquiry by virtue of its centrality to the explication of the social context of language use. Since no speech community can be said to be completely homogenous, the fact of language variation remains a glaring reality as exemplified in everyday uses of language in different societies. Firth (1951: 78) had stressed the fact that language must be as varied as the groups who use it and the multiplicity of functions to which it is applied. Similarly, Coates (1990: 24) in delineating the domain of sociolinguistics as the social context of language use, argues that the study of language in its social context means crucially the study of linguistic variation.

Consequently, sociolinguistic studies have been largely characterized by the exploration of the systematic relationship between language and socio-cultural organization of speech communities (Edo and Nyarks, 2015). The basic assumption behind this is that speakers functioning as members of a particular speech community, and within the ambit of a particular culture, have internalized not only the rules of grammar but also the rules of appropriate speech usage. These rules which are broadly shared by other members of the speech community are applied daily in speech behaviour (Sankoff, 1989).

The language spoken by somebody and his or her identity as a speaker of this language are inseparable. And every language has its own sound patterns (Nyarks & Hanson, 2023). One of the functions of language is to identify people as representatives of groups, communities and cultures in relation to others. The concept of identity helps to describe the way individuals and groups define themselves and are defined by others on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, language and culture (Deng 1995). As it is commonly recognized, the term identity is mutually constructed and refers to evolving images of self and other (Katzenstein 1996). Therefore, identity is people’s concept of who they are, of what sort of people they are, and how they relate to others (Hogg and Abrams 1988). It is worth mentioning, that the identity is subject to the individual interpretation, expressing the will to become a member of a group. Herrigel (1993) states: “By social identity, I mean the desire for group distinction, dignity, and place within historically specific discourses (or frames of understanding) about the character, structure, and boundaries of the policy and the economy.”

Identity is closely related to language, language use constructs identity, as everyone uses accent, dialect, and language variation that reveals speaker’s membership in a particular speech community, social class, ethnic and national group. As well, such variations are obvious when the grouping is based on gender, age, or expanding the linguistics focus to include jargons, registers and styles, occupation, club or gang membership, political affiliation, religious confession and so on (Edward 2009). Several researches have been conducted across the world on identification through language in different areas such as information technology (Constable, Simons 2000), speech recognition (Coulthard 1997), text verification (Giguet 1995); similar languages identification (Ljubesic 2007), criminal identification (Singh 2006), and language identification in web (Martins and Silva 2005). The function of language that identifies people as representatives of groups, communities and cultures has been examined in the context of marking the distinction between “Us” and “Others” (Duszak 2002). In African context, the language is often significantly regarded as a marker of national identity (Simpson 2008).

Language is a symbol system based on pure or arbitrary conventions… infinitely extendable. Extendable and modifiable according to the changing needs and conditions of the speakers. However, every developed language has its enrichment of vocabulary. As such every undeveloped language should develop its literary capacity through lexical enrichment (Nyarks, 2022). Every language (that exists in the written form) selects some symbols for its selected sounds.

Also, language does not pass from a parent to a child. In this sense, it is non-instinctive. Children have to learn language, and he or she learns the language of the society he is born into. According to Brown (1987), language is the institution whereby humans communicate and interact with each other by means of habitually used oral-auditory arbitrary symbols. This definition rightly gives more prominence to the fact that language is primarily speech produced by oral-auditory symbols. A speaker produces some string of oral sounds that get conveyed through the air to the speaker who, through his hearing organs, receives the sound waves and conveys these to the brain that interprets these symbols to arrive at a meaning.

Edwards (2009:20) states that “identity at one level or another is central to human and social sciences as it is also in philosophical and religious studies, for all these areas of investigation are primarily concerned with the ways in which human beings understand themselves and others”. Edwards further adds that since language is central to human condition, and since many have argued that it is the most salient distinguishing aspect of the human species, it seems likely that any study of identity must surely include some consideration of it. Omoniyi and White (2006) describe identity as a problematic and complex concept in as much as we recognise it as non-fixed, non-rigid and always being co-constructed by individuals of themselves (or ascribed by others) or by people who share certain core values or perceive another group as having such core values.

Ulrike (2008) explains that most scholars emphasize that although identity is deeply anchored in a society, thus leading to a strong emotional attachment to identity markers like language, language is not the only crucial aspect of minority group identity (Fishman, 1999; Romaine, 2000). For example, Blommert (2006) points out that linguistic behaviour is not necessarily an indicator of ethnicity and that administrative belonging does not always reflect sociolinguistic belonging. Blommert also posits that language constitutes one of the several characteristics that can place an individual in the majority or in the minority. In essence, language is just as much as an identity marker as religion, dress etc because these elements also determine the group (majority or minority) to which one belongs. The point in all of these is that a shared language or a shared territory does not always necessarily translate into a shared ethnicity. What defines a group of people transcends their language and geographical location – other identity markers are equally of importance.

Causes of Linguistics Variations

Zornitsky and Martin (2006) observe that linguistic variations are often caused by two variables or factors in any language. That is, external and internal causes.

External Causes: Language change is often brought about by contact between speakers of different languages or dialects, rather than by variation internal to a given speech community. Such changes are said to be due to external causes. Contacts between populations who speak different languages involve extensive bilingualism: accordingly, Weinreich (1953) pointed to the crucial role of bilingual speakers as the locus for language contact. However, high prestige languages may influence other languages without necessarily involve bilingualism.

Internal Causes: Within the sociolinguistic tradition of historical linguistics, the strongest advocate for a distinction between externally and internally motivated change is Labov. Summarizing his argument in favor of a difference between change in low-contact vs. high-contact situations, Trudgill states that “when it comes to contact, the present is not like the past” (1989), and indicates the study of change in isolated communities as a possible source for understanding language change in the past, since now “there are simply many more people around”.

Besides, change starting inside a speech community is ultimately due to contact between social dialects or even between individual idiolects. Even though we do not call each individual dialect a language, and accept the existence of speech communities as communities, i.e. as (parts of) societies “defined in terms of a domain of shared expertise” (Croft 2000), it remains true that “any communal language exists because speakers using systems that are not necessarily identical interact with one another. Obviously, contact between distant varieties implies, an important role of adult learners. However, speakers who, within a given speech community, try to conform to a high prestige variety of their own language are similar to language learners: the extent to which they may be more successful, and thus bring about less change in the target variety than language learners would do in the target language, should be measured in terms of quantity, rather than quality.

Linguistic Variations Variables

Lexical variation: Differences in vocabulary are one aspect of dialect diversity which people notice readily and comment on quite frequently.  They are certainly common enough as markers of the differences between geographical areas or regions–for instance the fact that “a carbonated soft drink” might be called pop in the inland North and the West of the United States, soda in the Northeast, tonic in Eastern New England, and cold drink, drink or dope in various parts of the South (Carver 1987).

Lexical differences are not as salient in distinguishing the speech of different social or socioeconomic classes, and they have accordingly played a much smaller role in social dialectology (the study of social dialects), which has concentrated instead on differences in phonology and grammar.  Nevertheless they are certainly an aspect of ethnic differences–for instance, knowledge of the term ashy to describe the “whitish or grayish appearance of skin due to exposure to wind and cold” (Smitherman 1994) is widespread among African Americans but less so among European Americans. Moreover, several dictionaries of African American English have appeared over the past several years.

Phonological variation: Phonological variation refers to differences in pronunciation within and across dialects, for instance the fact that people from New York and New England might pronounce “greasy” with an s, while people from Virginia and points further South might pronounce it with a z.  Or the fact that working class people across the United States are more likely than are upper middle class speakers to pronounce the initial th of they and similar words with a d.

Phonological variants are fairly salient as markers of regional dialect.  For instance, the stereotypical Bostonian pronunciation of “Park your car in Harvard yard” as Pahk yo’ car in Hahvahd yahd includes not only the r-lessness of Pahk, yo’, Hahvahd and yahd (the r in car is retained because the following word begins with a vowel)–a feature shared with many other American dialects, particularly in the South–but also the more distinctive use in these words of a long maximally low or open front vowel [a] where other dialects use a slightly fronter and less open vowel [Å] (Wells 1982).  In order to represent the pronunciations with some precision, linguists often use a phonetic alphabet in which each distinguishably different sound is uniquely represented by a different symbol, rather than the relatively unphonetic spelling system of English, in which one sound is often represented by different spellings (e.g. the sound “sh” represented by sh in sheet but by ti in nation) and different sounds by one spelling (e.g. s represents an “s” sound in bets but a “z” sound in beds).  Sounds and words represented in phonetic spelling are enclosed in square brackets; a key to the phonetic spellings used in this work is included at the beginning of this volume.

Grammatical variation: What is referring to as grammatical variation really involves two sub-types:  morphology and syntax.  Morphology refers to the structure or forms of words, including the morphemes or minimal units of meaning which comprise words, for instance the morphemes {un}”not” and {happy} “happy” in unhappy , or the morphemes {cat}”cat” and {s} “plural” in cats.  Syntax refers to the structure of larger units like phrases and sentences, including rules for combining and relating words in sentences, for instance the rule that in English yes/no questions,  auxiliaries must occur at the beginning of sentences, before the subject noun phrase (e.g. Can John go? versus the statement John can go).

It’s worthy of note that different version of stories have been told about the origin and immigration of Anaañ people in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria. Greenbergs, (1963) in Nyarks, (2006) maintains that Anaañ people are semi Bantu speakers who originated from the central Benue valley of Nigeria. They might have moved from northern sector of the Cross River to the Enyong Creek and eventually through the present day Eastern Ibibio land (Ikono) and settled at the location of present day Abak.  Essien, (1993) argued alongside Greenberg’s in Nyarks, (2006) that the immigration of the ancestors of Anaañ was a matter of securing a special geographical entity in order  to separate themselves from Ibibio people. The reason for this separation, according to Essien, Anaañ people are see themselves as special and unique people with their own language, traditions, cultures, norms and a way of life which is interwoven  with their language.

Anaañ people occupy the western part of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria It is bounded on the North by Ngwa in Abia State, on the East by Isuogbu on the south is the Ibibio while on the by the Andonis and Ogonis in Rivers State. See Figure 1.

Figure One: Map of Akwa Ibom State

According to the 2006 census figures, the population of the entire Uyo metropolis is 554,906. Majority of these people live and do business in the major towns of the senatorial district of the state.

The people of Anaañ are called Anaañ with a common dialect also known as Anaañ language. The people have a very rich cultural background and are predominantly Christians. The main occupation of the people is farming and petty trading by virtue of the geographical location as one of the commercial nerve- centre of the entire Akwa Ibom State.

Acts of Identity          Theory            Robert Le page                     

A basic tenet of this approach is that all linguistic behaviour is stimulated by some social contexts or the other. The individual is considered to be the locus of language behaviour along with the realization that individual behaviour at any given moment is largely unpredictable. The individual is also seen as an active and creative agent, constantly locating and relocating himself within the multi-dimension linguistic environment through what le page refers to as “projection” and “focusing”. According to his assumptions, individual manipulates these features in creating a social identity but he creates his rules – – – so as to resemble as closely as possible those of the group or groups with which, from time to time, he wishes to identify as constrained by a number of factors. These include;

  1. The extent to which he is able to identify his model groups.
  2. The extent to which he has sufficient access to those model groups and sufficient analytic ability to work out the rules of their behaviour.
  3. The strength of various motivations towards one or another model and towards retaining his sense of his own unique identity.
  4. His ability to modify his behaviour.

In conclusion, the theory of Page has correlations with the present study on the premises that it’s discussed individuals, their languages and the society they live in.

Methodology

The study adopted survey research design and library-based sources as it research method.  The population of the study comprises of Anaañ indigence populaces in the eight local government areas of the Annan language speaking community in Akwa Ibom State. The stratified random sampling was used to conduct interview for Anaañ indigence residents in the eight local government areas of Annan land. In order to find out the language varieties available in Anaañ language, the researchers used the Ibadan 400 wordlist and three sentences to interview nine persons in each of the eight local government area of Akwa Ibom State. The key informants were traditional chiefs, businessmen, secondary school teachers ranging from the age forty to seventy-five years. The informants were asked to pronounce the items in the wordlist in their respective varieties and it was transcribed directly and also, all the data collected were subjected to comparative analysis.

Objective of the study

The main objective of the study was to examine the effect of language variation and ethnic identity of Annang people in Akwa Ibom State while the specific objective sought to examine the Anaañ language and it’s dialectical varieties.

Analysis of Data

From the interview of the seventy two Anaañ indigenes from the eight Anaañ Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State using the Ibadan 400 wordlist, 20 Anaañ wordlist and three simple sentences, we collated data numerically first from each LGA for comparative analysis. After this analysis, we realized that all informants in each LGA pronounced words almost in the same manner.

Table 1: Comparative Analysis of Variations in Anaan Language 

L.G.A’s Market Mortar Back River
ABAK ùrὺa èka úrὺñ

 

érèm irim
ESSIEN UDIM ὺrὺa èkaúrὺñ~ èkaúdὺñ

 

érèm Irim
ETIM EKPO ὺrὺa èkaúrὺñ érèm irim
IKA ὺdὺa èkaúdὺñ édèm idim
IKOT EKPENE ὺrὺa~ὺlὺa èkaúlὺñ édèm irim~idim
OBOT AKARA ὺrὺa~ὺlὺa èkaúlὺñ édèm ilim~idim
ORUK ANAM ὺlὺa èkaúlὺñ élèm ilim
IKANAFUN ὺlὺa èkaúlὺñ élèm ilim

 

Derived from the above examples, phonologically there are phonemic substitution of vowels and consonants in Anaañ language. Moreover, the variation of the above items in all Local Governments of Anaañ land was realized by the substitution of a phoneme for another.

From table above, we realized that informant from Abak Local Government Area produce every word that has voiced alveolar plosive /d/ and alveolar lateral /l/ with the substitution of the alveolar tap / r /. Examples of these words are: river / ὶrὶm /, market / úrúa /, mortar /ὺrὺη/, and back /èrèm/

In Etim Ekpo Local Government all the informants realized the sounds as informants from Abak with the use of the Alveolar tap / r / as a substitute of the Voiced Alveolar plosive /d/ and Alveolar lateral /l/ used by other Local Government Areas. This same observation is obtainable in Essien Udim Local Government Area.

In Ikot Ekpene the prominent variant is the change of the voiceless palatal plosive /p/ in the place of the voiceless labial velar plosive /kp/ use by other Local Government Areas.

Also Obot Akara make use of the voiceless palatal plosive /p/ rather than voiceless labial velar plosive /kp/ used by other Local Government Areas.

Conclusion

Based on the comparative analysis of the difference varieties in Anaañ language, the study concluded that there is a proportional effect of language variations and the identity of the people of Anaañ from the different local government areas in Annan community. Therefore, through the establishment of a standard variety, Anaañ language will be used as one of the developed languages for literary works. Also it will be adopted as a language of instruction, and studies in schools, communication and other social contacts.

Recommendations

Based on the analysis and conclusion of the study, the researchers wishes to recommend that:

Anaañ language should be standardized i.e. the language should be improved in order to accommodate new developments in science, technology and other spheres of human endeavour through the following ways mentioned in chapter four of this study such as:

(a) graphazisation (b) codification (c) modernization (d) literary production and other techniques of vocabulary development such as borrowing, adaptation and adoption.

A thorough research and workshop on the improvement of Anaañ lexicon should be conducted. And to this end, dictionary, which shall embody all the words and its meanings, should be complied in order to help learners and students of the language to be acquainted with the new words.

References

Blommaert, J. (2006). Language policy and national identity. An Introduction to language policy: theory and method. Ricardo, T. Ed. Malden: Blackwell Publishing. 238-254Brown (1987)

Carver, K (1987) Towards a description of trilingual competence. The International Journal of Bilingualism, 5 (1): 1-7

Coates, J. (1990) Problems of multilingual nation: the Nigerian perspective. Nsukka: ACE Resources Konzults.

Coulthard, S.A (1997), The Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure: A new scale for use with adolescents and young adults from diverse groups.” Journal of Adolescent Research, 7: 156-176.

Croft, W.E (2000) The ethnic revival in the modern world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Deng, O.P (1995) Code-switching in South African townships. In Mesthrie, R (Ed), Language in South Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Duszak, A. (2002) Doing critical ethnography. Newbury Park. CA: SAGE Publications.

Edwards, J.  (2009).  Language  and  identity.  Key  topics  in  Sociolinguistics.  Cambridge:  Cambridge  University  Press.

Essien, P. P. (1993) Anaang in the Polylotta. African review Magazine. Vol. 9. London: Frankcass

Firth, T.H (1951) Planning Language, planning inequality: Language policy in the community. London and New York: Longman

Fishman, J. A.  1999. Ed. Handbook of language and ethnic identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Greenberg, J., (1963) the languages of Africa. Bloominton India: Indiana University  Press.

Giguet, K. (1995) Phenomenological research in the study of education. In D. Vandenberg (Ed.), Phenomenology & education discourse (p 3-37). Johannesburg: Heinemann.

Herrigel, A.S (1993) Towards a reflexive sociology: A workshop with Pierre Bourdieu. In Sociological Theory, Vol 7 (1) 26-63.

Hogg, A and Abrams, O. (1988) Language policy and planning in South Africa. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, Vol 14:254-273.

Katzenstein, S. (1996) Linguistic Society of Southern Africa. National Conference. Pretoria: Van Schaik.

Labov, W. (1972). Sociolinguistic patterns. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania press.

Le Page, R. and Tabouret-Keller, A. (1985). Acts of identity: creole-based approaches to language and ethnicity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ljubesic, C. (2007), Languages in contact. The Hague: Mouton.

Weinreich, O.U. (1953) Code-Switching as a Countenance of Language Interference. London: Blackwell publishers

Romaine, I. (2000). Language as a resource in South Africa: The Economic life of Language in a globalizing society. Paper presented at the 14th English Academy conference, ‘mother tongue, other tongues: Learning and literature’. University of Pretoria, 4-6April 2000.

Sankoff, G. (1973). “Dialectology”. Annual Review of Anthropology. 2: 165–177.

Simpson, O. (2008) The functions of teachers’ code-switching in multilingual and multicultural high school classrooms in the Siyanda District of Northern Cape Province. M A Thesis.Cape-Town: Stellenbosch University.

Singh, A. (2006). Language policy and communication in Post Apartheid Education-Towards a theory of “lingocide”, University of KwaZulu-Natal Durban. In Journal of Social Sciences Vol 18(2):127-136.

Trudgill, P. (1989) sociolinguistics: an introduction to language. Harmondsworth England: Pengium Press.

Ulrike, S. (2008). Language loss and the ethnic identity of minorities. ECMI (European Centre for Minority Issues). Brief 18, Nov, 2008.

Weinreich, O.U. (1953) Code-Switching as a Countenance of Language Interference. London: Blackwell publishers

Wells (1982) Languages in contact, finding and problems. The Hague: Mouton.

Yuke, H.P (1985)  Language,  mind  and  reality.  A  Review  of  General Semantics. Vol.9, No. 3; 167-88.

Zornitsky, A. and Martin, P. (2006). Language contact and bilingualism. London: Blackswells.

Edo, I. and Nyarks, A. (2015). The Basic Sociolinguistic Features of Language use in Political Campaign Speeches. Journal of Arts and Culture, 10 (1), 99 – 111

Nyarks, A. & Hanson, G. (2023). An assessment of sound system in Ibibio language: the clarity and phonological challenges. International Journal of Educational and Scientific Research Findings, 5(1), 81 – 89.

Nyarks, A. (2022). Affixation: A linguistic strategy for language development, a case study of Anaang language. International Journal on Integrated Education, 5(7), 42 – 51.

LANGUAGE VARIATION AND SHAPING ETHNIC IDENTITY

 

Abstract

The effort of the researchers in this work was to examine the language variations as medium of ethnic identity of Anaañ people in Akwa Ibom State and also ascertain the factors responsible for these varieties and suggest possible strategic solutions that would foster language standardization that will accommodate contemporary issues. In order to achieve the objective of the study, the researchers adopted a stratified random sampling method to conduct interview for Anaañ indigence residents in the eight local government areas of Annan land. More so, to find out the language varieties available in Anaañ language, the researchers used the Ibadan 400 wordlist and three sentences to interview nine persons in each of the eight local government areas of Akwa Ibom State. The key informants were traditional chiefs, businessmen, secondary school teachers ranging from the age forty to seventy-five years. The informants were asked to pronounce the items in the wordlist in their respective varieties and it was transcribed directly and also, all the data collected were subjected to comparative analysis. The study concluded that

 

Keywords:  Language; Variations; Ethnic; Identity; Annan

 

Introduction

Language variation has remained a prominent theme in sociolinguistic enquiry by virtue of its centrality to the explication of the social context of language use. Since no speech community can be said to be completely homogenous, the fact of language variation remains a glaring reality as exemplified in everyday uses of language in different societies. Firth (1951: 78) had stressed the fact that language must be as varied as the groups who use it and the multiplicity of functions to which it is applied. Similarly, Coates (1990: 24) in delineating the domain of sociolinguistics as the social context of language use, argues that the study of language in its social context means crucially the study of linguistic variation.

Consequently, sociolinguistic studies have been largely characterized by the exploration of the systematic relationship between language and socio-cultural organization of speech communities (Edo and Nyarks, 2015). The basic assumption behind this is that speakers functioning as members of a particular speech community, and within the ambit of a particular culture, have internalized not only the rules of grammar but also the rules of appropriate speech usage. These rules which are broadly shared by other members of the speech community are applied daily in speech behaviour (Sankoff, 1989).

The language spoken by somebody and his or her identity as a speaker of this language are inseparable. And every language has its own sound patterns (Nyarks & Hanson, 2023). One of the functions of language is to identify people as representatives of groups, communities and cultures in relation to others. The concept of identity helps to describe the way individuals and groups define themselves and are defined by others on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, language and culture (Deng 1995). As it is commonly recognized, the term identity is mutually constructed and refers to evolving images of self and other (Katzenstein 1996). Therefore, identity is people’s concept of who they are, of what sort of people they are, and how they relate to others (Hogg and Abrams 1988). It is worth mentioning, that the identity is subject to the individual interpretation, expressing the will to become a member of a group. Herrigel (1993) states: “By social identity, I mean the desire for group distinction, dignity, and place within historically specific discourses (or frames of understanding) about the character, structure, and boundaries of the policy and the economy.”

Identity is closely related to language, language use constructs identity, as everyone uses accent, dialect, and language variation that reveals speaker’s membership in a particular speech community, social class, ethnic and national group. As well, such variations are obvious when the grouping is based on gender, age, or expanding the linguistics focus to include jargons, registers and styles, occupation, club or gang membership, political affiliation, religious confession and so on (Edward 2009). Several researches have been conducted across the world on identification through language in different areas such as information technology (Constable, Simons 2000), speech recognition (Coulthard 1997), text verification (Giguet 1995); similar languages identification (Ljubesic 2007), criminal identification (Singh 2006), and language identification in web (Martins and Silva 2005). The function of language that identifies people as representatives of groups, communities and cultures has been examined in the context of marking the distinction between “Us” and “Others” (Duszak 2002). In African context, the language is often significantly regarded as a marker of national identity (Simpson 2008).

Language is a symbol system based on pure or arbitrary conventions… infinitely extendable. Extendable and modifiable according to the changing needs and conditions of the speakers. However, every developed language has its enrichment of vocabulary. As such every undeveloped language should develop its literary capacity through lexical enrichment (Nyarks, 2022). Every language (that exists in the written form) selects some symbols for its selected sounds.

Also, language does not pass from a parent to a child. In this sense, it is non-instinctive. Children have to learn language, and he or she learns the language of the society he is born into. According to Brown (1987), language is the institution whereby humans communicate and interact with each other by means of habitually used oral-auditory arbitrary symbols. This definition rightly gives more prominence to the fact that language is primarily speech produced by oral-auditory symbols. A speaker produces some string of oral sounds that get conveyed through the air to the speaker who, through his hearing organs, receives the sound waves and conveys these to the brain that interprets these symbols to arrive at a meaning.

Edwards (2009:20) states that “identity at one level or another is central to human and social sciences as it is also in philosophical and religious studies, for all these areas of investigation are primarily concerned with the ways in which human beings understand themselves and others”. Edwards further adds that since language is central to human condition, and since many have argued that it is the most salient distinguishing aspect of the human species, it seems likely that any study of identity must surely include some consideration of it. Omoniyi and White (2006) describe identity as a problematic and complex concept in as much as we recognise it as non-fixed, non-rigid and always being co-constructed by individuals of themselves (or ascribed by others) or by people who share certain core values or perceive another group as having such core values.

Ulrike (2008) explains that most scholars emphasize that although identity is deeply anchored in a society, thus leading to a strong emotional attachment to identity markers like language, language is not the only crucial aspect of minority group identity (Fishman, 1999; Romaine, 2000). For example, Blommert (2006) points out that linguistic behaviour is not necessarily an indicator of ethnicity and that administrative belonging does not always reflect sociolinguistic belonging. Blommert also posits that language constitutes one of the several characteristics that can place an individual in the majority or in the minority. In essence, language is just as much as an identity marker as religion, dress etc because these elements also determine the group (majority or minority) to which one belongs. The point in all of these is that a shared language or a shared territory does not always necessarily translate into a shared ethnicity. What defines a group of people transcends their language and geographical location – other identity markers are equally of importance.

Causes of Linguistics Variations

Zornitsky and Martin (2006) observe that linguistic variations are often caused by two variables or factors in any language. That is, external and internal causes.

External Causes: Language change is often brought about by contact between speakers of different languages or dialects, rather than by variation internal to a given speech community. Such changes are said to be due to external causes. Contacts between populations who speak different languages involve extensive bilingualism: accordingly, Weinreich (1953) pointed to the crucial role of bilingual speakers as the locus for language contact. However, high prestige languages may influence other languages without necessarily involve bilingualism.

Internal Causes: Within the sociolinguistic tradition of historical linguistics, the strongest advocate for a distinction between externally and internally motivated change is Labov. Summarizing his argument in favor of a difference between change in low-contact vs. high-contact situations, Trudgill states that “when it comes to contact, the present is not like the past” (1989), and indicates the study of change in isolated communities as a possible source for understanding language change in the past, since now “there are simply many more people around”.

Besides, change starting inside a speech community is ultimately due to contact between social dialects or even between individual idiolects. Even though we do not call each individual dialect a language, and accept the existence of speech communities as communities, i.e. as (parts of) societies “defined in terms of a domain of shared expertise” (Croft 2000), it remains true that “any communal language exists because speakers using systems that are not necessarily identical interact with one another. Obviously, contact between distant varieties implies, an important role of adult learners. However, speakers who, within a given speech community, try to conform to a high prestige variety of their own language are similar to language learners: the extent to which they may be more successful, and thus bring about less change in the target variety than language learners would do in the target language, should be measured in terms of quantity, rather than quality.

Linguistic Variations Variables

Lexical variation: Differences in vocabulary are one aspect of dialect diversity which people notice readily and comment on quite frequently.  They are certainly common enough as markers of the differences between geographical areas or regions–for instance the fact that “a carbonated soft drink” might be called pop in the inland North and the West of the United States, soda in the Northeast, tonic in Eastern New England, and cold drink, drink or dope in various parts of the South (Carver 1987).

Lexical differences are not as salient in distinguishing the speech of different social or socioeconomic classes, and they have accordingly played a much smaller role in social dialectology (the study of social dialects), which has concentrated instead on differences in phonology and grammar.  Nevertheless they are certainly an aspect of ethnic differences–for instance, knowledge of the term ashy to describe the “whitish or grayish appearance of skin due to exposure to wind and cold” (Smitherman 1994) is widespread among African Americans but less so among European Americans. Moreover, several dictionaries of African American English have appeared over the past several years.

Phonological variation: Phonological variation refers to differences in pronunciation within and across dialects, for instance the fact that people from New York and New England might pronounce “greasy” with an s, while people from Virginia and points further South might pronounce it with a z.  Or the fact that working class people across the United States are more likely than are upper middle class speakers to pronounce the initial th of they and similar words with a d.

Phonological variants are fairly salient as markers of regional dialect.  For instance, the stereotypical Bostonian pronunciation of “Park your car in Harvard yard” as Pahk yo’ car in Hahvahd yahd includes not only the r-lessness of Pahk, yo’, Hahvahd and yahd (the r in car is retained because the following word begins with a vowel)–a feature shared with many other American dialects, particularly in the South–but also the more distinctive use in these words of a long maximally low or open front vowel [a] where other dialects use a slightly fronter and less open vowel [Å] (Wells 1982).  In order to represent the pronunciations with some precision, linguists often use a phonetic alphabet in which each distinguishably different sound is uniquely represented by a different symbol, rather than the relatively unphonetic spelling system of English, in which one sound is often represented by different spellings (e.g. the sound “sh” represented by sh in sheet but by ti in nation) and different sounds by one spelling (e.g. s represents an “s” sound in bets but a “z” sound in beds).  Sounds and words represented in phonetic spelling are enclosed in square brackets; a key to the phonetic spellings used in this work is included at the beginning of this volume.

Grammatical variation: What is referring to as grammatical variation really involves two sub-types:  morphology and syntax.  Morphology refers to the structure or forms of words, including the morphemes or minimal units of meaning which comprise words, for instance the morphemes {un}”not” and {happy} “happy” in unhappy , or the morphemes {cat}”cat” and {s} “plural” in cats.  Syntax refers to the structure of larger units like phrases and sentences, including rules for combining and relating words in sentences, for instance the rule that in English yes/no questions,  auxiliaries must occur at the beginning of sentences, before the subject noun phrase (e.g. Can John go? versus the statement John can go).

It’s worthy of note that different version of stories have been told about the origin and immigration of Anaañ people in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria. Greenbergs, (1963) in Nyarks, (2006) maintains that Anaañ people are semi Bantu speakers who originated from the central Benue valley of Nigeria. They might have moved from northern sector of the Cross River to the Enyong Creek and eventually through the present day Eastern Ibibio land (Ikono) and settled at the location of present day Abak.  Essien, (1993) argued alongside Greenberg’s in Nyarks, (2006) that the immigration of the ancestors of Anaañ was a matter of securing a special geographical entity in order  to separate themselves from Ibibio people. The reason for this separation, according to Essien, Anaañ people are see themselves as special and unique people with their own language, traditions, cultures, norms and a way of life which is interwoven  with their language.

Anaañ people occupy the western part of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria It is bounded on the North by Ngwa in Abia State, on the East by Isuogbu on the south is the Ibibio while on the by the Andonis and Ogonis in Rivers State. See Figure 1.

Figure One: Map of Akwa Ibom State

According to the 2006 census figures, the population of the entire Uyo metropolis is 554,906. Majority of these people live and do business in the major towns of the senatorial district of the state.

The people of Anaañ are called Anaañ with a common dialect also known as Anaañ language. The people have a very rich cultural background and are predominantly Christians. The main occupation of the people is farming and petty trading by virtue of the geographical location as one of the commercial nerve- centre of the entire Akwa Ibom State.

Acts of Identity          Theory            Robert Le page                     

A basic tenet of this approach is that all linguistic behaviour is stimulated by some social contexts or the other. The individual is considered to be the locus of language behaviour along with the realization that individual behaviour at any given moment is largely unpredictable. The individual is also seen as an active and creative agent, constantly locating and relocating himself within the multi-dimension linguistic environment through what le page refers to as “projection” and “focusing”. According to his assumptions, individual manipulates these features in creating a social identity but he creates his rules – – – so as to resemble as closely as possible those of the group or groups with which, from time to time, he wishes to identify as constrained by a number of factors. These include;

  1. The extent to which he is able to identify his model groups.
  2. The extent to which he has sufficient access to those model groups and sufficient analytic ability to work out the rules of their behaviour.
  3. The strength of various motivations towards one or another model and towards retaining his sense of his own unique identity.
  4. His ability to modify his behaviour.

In conclusion, the theory of Page has correlations with the present study on the premises that it’s discussed individuals, their languages and the society they live in.

Methodology

The study adopted survey research design and library-based sources as it research method.  The population of the study comprises of Anaañ indigence populaces in the eight local government areas of the Annan language speaking community in Akwa Ibom State. The stratified random sampling was used to conduct interview for Anaañ indigence residents in the eight local government areas of Annan land. In order to find out the language varieties available in Anaañ language, the researchers used the Ibadan 400 wordlist and three sentences to interview nine persons in each of the eight local government area of Akwa Ibom State. The key informants were traditional chiefs, businessmen, secondary school teachers ranging from the age forty to seventy-five years. The informants were asked to pronounce the items in the wordlist in their respective varieties and it was transcribed directly and also, all the data collected were subjected to comparative analysis.

Objective of the study

The main objective of the study was to examine the effect of language variation and ethnic identity of Annang people in Akwa Ibom State while the specific objective sought to examine the Anaañ language and it’s dialectical varieties.

Analysis of Data

From the interview of the seventy two Anaañ indigenes from the eight Anaañ Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State using the Ibadan 400 wordlist, 20 Anaañ wordlist and three simple sentences, we collated data numerically first from each LGA for comparative analysis. After this analysis, we realized that all informants in each LGA pronounced words almost in the same manner.

Table 1: Comparative Analysis of Variations in Anaan Language 

L.G.A’s Market Mortar Back River
ABAK ùrὺa èka úrὺñ

 

érèm irim
ESSIEN UDIM ὺrὺa èkaúrὺñ~ èkaúdὺñ

 

érèm Irim
ETIM EKPO ὺrὺa èkaúrὺñ érèm irim
IKA ὺdὺa èkaúdὺñ édèm idim
IKOT EKPENE ὺrὺa~ὺlὺa èkaúlὺñ édèm irim~idim
OBOT AKARA ὺrὺa~ὺlὺa èkaúlὺñ édèm ilim~idim
ORUK ANAM ὺlὺa èkaúlὺñ élèm ilim
IKANAFUN ὺlὺa èkaúlὺñ élèm ilim

 

Derived from the above examples, phonologically there are phonemic substitution of vowels and consonants in Anaañ language. Moreover, the variation of the above items in all Local Governments of Anaañ land was realized by the substitution of a phoneme for another.

From table above, we realized that informant from Abak Local Government Area produce every word that has voiced alveolar plosive /d/ and alveolar lateral /l/ with the substitution of the alveolar tap / r /. Examples of these words are: river / ὶrὶm /, market / úrúa /, mortar /ὺrὺη/, and back /èrèm/

In Etim Ekpo Local Government all the informants realized the sounds as informants from Abak with the use of the Alveolar tap / r / as a substitute of the Voiced Alveolar plosive /d/ and Alveolar lateral /l/ used by other Local Government Areas. This same observation is obtainable in Essien Udim Local Government Area.

In Ikot Ekpene the prominent variant is the change of the voiceless palatal plosive /p/ in the place of the voiceless labial velar plosive /kp/ use by other Local Government Areas.

Also Obot Akara make use of the voiceless palatal plosive /p/ rather than voiceless labial velar plosive /kp/ used by other Local Government Areas.

Conclusion

Based on the comparative analysis of the difference varieties in Anaañ language, the study concluded that there is a proportional effect of language variations and the identity of the people of Anaañ from the different local government areas in Annan community. Therefore, through the establishment of a standard variety, Anaañ language will be used as one of the developed languages for literary works. Also it will be adopted as a language of instruction, and studies in schools, communication and other social contacts.

Recommendations

Based on the analysis and conclusion of the study, the researchers wishes to recommend that:

Anaañ language should be standardized i.e. the language should be improved in order to accommodate new developments in science, technology and other spheres of human endeavour through the following ways mentioned in chapter four of this study such as:

(a) graphazisation (b) codification (c) modernization (d) literary production and other techniques of vocabulary development such as borrowing, adaptation and adoption.

A thorough research and workshop on the improvement of Anaañ lexicon should be conducted. And to this end, dictionary, which shall embody all the words and its meanings, should be complied in order to help learners and students of the language to be acquainted with the new words.

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