Instances of Gradual Vocabulary Loss in Yoruba: A Need for Documentation

Mayowa Emmanuel Oyinloye


A careful scrutiny of the use of Yoruba in contemporary discourse at various social situations reveals that there are two vital aspects of its system of communication which are gradually, and quite imperceptibly, creeping out. These are idioms and proverbs, two indispensable pillars of Yoruba communication system. However, in contrast with the trend in the ancient past, idiomatic and proverbial expressions are no longer salient in Yoruba media of communication such as verbal discourse, written materials, home videos, audio recitals, just to mention but a few. This clearly shows that these aspects of the language are endangered. This paper therefore highlights some of the Yoruba idioms and proverbs that are seldom used in today’s discourse and discusses some of the ensuing social, cultural, religious and linguistic implications of such anomaly. To that effect, the paper then concludes by advocating a need for intra-lingual documentation of these expressions as a proactive measure aimed at ensuring their potential revitalization should they eventually die out of the language in the process of time.


Yoruba; Idioms; Proverbs; Endangerment

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