|There are more than 370 languages in Nigeria, in three main groups:
Western Sudanic, Niger Volta and Central Sudanic. The three officially
recognized regional languages are Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. About 65% of
the population speak one of these languages. Hausa is widely spoken in
the north, Igbo in the southeast and Yoruba in the west.
In the past many languages had no written
forms, so people used symbols to communicate. For example, the peregun
tree indicates a sacred site or shrine. Palm fronds across the road is
a warning about restricted movement. A yellow palm frond tied on a vehicle
signifies the presence of a dead body. The "talking drums" in Nigeria are
used to imitate speech, convey messages, recite history and sing praises
to a chief. Numbers have special meanings among the Yoruba.
|English is the official language of Nigeria, but
local languages are used for local radio broadcasts. A West African indigenous
version of English called "Pidgin English" is very popular among Nigerians.
In Pidgin English, for example, "I don go" means "I will go" or "I am going."
Most Nigerian languages use expressions of respect
for older persons. Methods of greeting elders, parents and teachers vary
among ethnic groups; but generally this involves head bowing if the greeter
is male and knee bending if the greeter is female.
It is considered
bad manners to receive anything with the left hand. Usually gifts are received
with both hands.