The Oluwo of Iwo, Oba AbdulRasheed Akanbi, yesterday, lamented the failure of Yoruba language to evolve with current trend and assert its identity among respectable languages in the world.
Speaking against the background of the recent addition of some Nigerian words into the Oxford Dictionary, the First Class traditional ruler said he is worried by the inability of the Yoruba language to translate some English words into Yoruba and vice versa.
The Oxford English Dictionary had, last week, incorporated some local words, such as, Danfo, Tokunbo, gist, k-leg and next-tomorrow, among many others into its latest update, saying that they are unique Nigerian coinages that had been in use for over three decades.
Oba Akanbi, who challenged Yoruba scholars to prove their worth in that regard, also urged the academia to conduct intensive researches aimed at coining Yoruba words into foreign lexicons.
Acknowledging the evolution of the English language through the adoption of French, African and other foreign words into its lexicon, the Oluwo, however, clarified that he is not attempting to spite Yoruba Language by saying the obvious because he is on the throne to protect Yoruba culture which includes the language.
He said the failure to interpret some words has put a question mark on the future of the language.
He further lamented that there is no evolution in the language as words inherited from the Yoruba forebears over hundreds of years ago are still the same words being spoken today, describing it as evidence of stagnation in a dynamic world.
He said: “Tell me what Yoruba call the following words: hectres, block, screw driver, bulb, video, cocoa, cashew, coffee, watermelon, strawberry?
“I am not saying that parents should not encourage their children to speak Yoruba language. I have never said that, and I won’t say such because I am the Oluwo, a custodian of culture and tradition.
“But it is my responsibility to ensure that the language ranks among the best in the world. What I am advocating is how to find a way to resolve this problem I have identified.”
Oba Akanbi recalled that less than one week after he expressed his mind on the limitation of Yoruba Language, the Oxford Dictionary announced inclusion of about 29 Nigerian slangs into the use of English Language, asking of the number of Yoruba words in the updated Oxford Dictionary.
“When last was the Yoruba dictionary updated? The point is that we are still sleeping. As far as I am concerned as the Oluwo of Iwoland, I will continue to move with time because what we call culture must move with time.
“You don’t live on past glory and be respected. We have to create our own legacy so that future generation would make reference to it,” he said.
The outspoken traditional ruler insisted that he would continue to use social media to upgrade himself and follow the trend in the global stage, adding that a 21 Century king should not keep himself in the palace and wait for things to happen.
“A king must have a voice on public issues to show leadership and direction to his people. We should come to terms with reality of the century in which we live now. We should not live like zombies, whose lives are controlled by myths and superstitions,” he said.