Media plays a critical role in ensuring that endangered languages do not die, one of Africa’s top linguists Dr Abdel Hadi Hamed has said.
In Malawi, languages such as Lhomwe, Ngonde and Sena, which are exclusive to particular districts and areas, could die if not promoted.
Hamed said this last week in his address to African journalists undergoing a three-week training in Cairo, Egypt.
“War, trade and religion lead to death and the weakening of other languages. Many languages are in danger. At least 2 500 languages are threatened to die all over the world,” he said.
Hamed suggested that the media should develop long, short and medium-term strategies to preserve languages.
He said languages die, among others, due to neglect by generations who find them unfashionable.
It is critical that Malawi classifies its language status, Hamed noted.
“We need to make sure that journalists deal with linguistic situations in Africa as this reflects general situations in Africa. We have to pay attention to local languages for the sake of the next generations. Language variety means a lot to cultural variations,” he said.
“Non-governmental organisations and the media have a role because politicians cannot pay attention to those issues unless pushed. Governments do not concentrate on cultural and social issues but political and economic affairs,” Hamed said.