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University don makes case for French language study, promotion

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By Oluseyi Dasilva, Ilorin

A university don, Professor Isaiah Bariki, has made a case for the learning of French as a means of communication to increase level of awareness and communication among the younger generations.

Bariki, a professor of French at the University of Ilorin, made this call recently while presenting the University’s 201st Inaugural Lecture, entitled “Power Dynamics in Translation and Allied Issues” at the institution’s Auditorium. 

He directed his call to education stakeholders to ensure that the study, understanding and use of French, as a means of communication, is taken more seriously.

The Inaugural Lecturer expressed the opinion that making the study of French a part of education curriculum in General Studies of institutions of higher learning in the country would help to create greater awareness on the importance of French among the younger generations.

Bariki explained that the study and use of French as a medium of expression was becoming more important for the citizens of Nigeria to have their deserved places in the international arena.

He noted that French had been an international language and one of the most widely spoken for centuries and that the sooner Nigerians realised its importance the better for the nation.

The distinguished academic said that understanding French is also important because Nigeria is surrounded by French-Speaking countries and that understanding the language of one’s neighbours promotes understanding and peaceful coexistence.

He added that if many of the people of the countries surrounding Nigeria, whose official language is French, could still express themselves and conduct their affairs with the use of English as much as they do in French, nothing should prevent Nigerians from acquiring proficiency in French.

Prof. Bariki also said that stakeholders ought to take the issue of translation very important, pointing out that the quality of translated work or document is as good as the original material itself.

He was particularly concerned with the translations of certificates, academic transcripts and legal documents, which he said should be handled with utmost efficiency, professionalism and meticulousness to avoid misrepresentation and consequent misleading.

The don, who is the first scholar from the University of Ilorin to obtain a Ph.D. in Translation, also encouraged the authorities of the various institutions of higher learning in the country to consider translated works good enough to attract good points for promotion of academics to the next cadre in their careers. He went further to commend the University of Ilorin for establishing an Institute of Translation Arts, for the translation of intellectual works, certificates and transcripts.

He encouraged the university to invest more in the Institute, not only to enable it discharge its responsibilities fully but also fill the yawning gaps for such services which, he said, is rare in the West African sub-region.

The foremost scholar of French also encouraged Nigerians to take pride in their indigenous languages to ensure its perpetuation, saying that if we have the kind of passion a French man has for his language it would be good for all.

While urging Nigerians to develop proficiency in French as they do with English, Prof. Bariki also said people should cultivate derivation of pleasure in being spoken to in their indigenous languages for the perpetuation of our cultural heritage.

The lecture, which was presided over by the vice chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, was graced by many dignitaries, including relations, colleagues, friends and students of Prof. Bariki from far and near.

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