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Language, Ethnicity and Conflict: Applying Linguistic Measure to Prevent Ethnic Violence in Middle Belt Nigeria

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This research highlights the efficacy of community-based language planning initiatives in ethnic conflict and violence prevention. As a threshold which elucidates how linguistic measures can help to prevent inter-ethnic violence, the research illustrates that where ethnic safeguarding reaches the extremity of violence, language issues are found to have covert but very strong causal roles as manifested in the ethnic violent conflicts affecting Nigeria’s Middle-Belt including the Berom/Afizere/Anaguta versus Hausa/Fulani; Taroh versus Hausa/Fulani (Plateau State); Tiv versus Etulo (Benue State); Tiv versus Jukun (Benue and Taraba States); and Jukun versus Kuteb (Taraba State). Paired t-test values set at a confidence interval of 95 per cent indicate that the statistical mean differences (1.60 in Tiv/Jukun and 9.60 in the Jos area) are close to the true difference occurrences in the randomly sampled populations. More significant are the two tailed P values of 0.5895 (Tiv/Jukun) showing low bilingualism; and 0.3477 (Jos area) depicting more acute bilingualism decline associated with the ethnic violence. The research then considers the application of linguistic measures vital to prevent ethnic violence. In particular, critiqued aspects of the Expanded Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scales (EGIDS) are recommended to ethnic communities, voluntary organisations and governments for implementation in dealing with violent conflicts.

Affiliations: 1: The Language Centre, University of Bradford, Bradford, UK,


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