New word alert”ENDOGLOSSOPHOBIA”| See What It Means


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The word phobia is a Greek word that means “to be afraid of” or “fear of”. In one word, it refers to fear. It could be the fear of a thing, people, object or language.

Lots of persons globally have one fear or the other. They find it difficult to relate to a particular thing. In some cases, it could cause harm if exposed to that situation.

Same way, there are those who have fear for language, “Linguaphobia”. There are also those who have fear for speaking foreign languages “Xenoglossophobia”.

There are people who are afraid of speaking in the public too “Glossophobia”. There are also those who are afraid of speaking their own Indigenous or Native languages. This situation is referred to as “Endoglossophobia”.

The word Endoglossophobia was first dropped on Radio during the #LanguageHealth Show with Sam Oracle Chinedu and Josiah Chijindu Egbilika

Endoglossophobia is a common situation but has been subsumed into linguaphobia. This is not the case because the fear of language is a summary of the fears of any language situation. It could be the fear of a foreign language “Xenoglossophobia”, fear of sign spelling “Lexidactylophobia”. While these have terms covering their peculiar situations, unfortunately, there is no existing term for the fear of one’s indigenous language.

Endoglossophobia is derived from the Greek words Endo meaning “in, within”, glossa meaning “tongue” and phobos, “fear or dread”. Generally there is no word to describe the fear of speaking one’s native language. It is in this view I am proposing ”Endoglossophobia”.

Emtimologically, Endo means “me”, glosso “speaking” and phobia “fear”. In a simple form, Endoglossophobia is the fear of speaking one’s native or indigenous language or dialect.

Josiah Chijindu Egbilika, Linguist and Indigenous Language Advocate, the originator of the word Endoglossophobia

It is a situation where a native of a particular place has the fear of speaking his/her own native language. In a broader definition, it is the feeling of unease, apprehension, worry, irritation, nervousness experienced in learning or using either in speech or writing one’s native or indigenous language. It can also be referred to as native or indigenous language anxiety or dialectal anxiety

As long as I could remember, I had physical discomfort when speaking/listening to my first language (Mandarin Chinese).

A little bit of background: I am born and raised in China, at which place I stayed until when I was 18 before going abroad to pursue college education. The first time I could remember reacting negatively toward the sound of my first language was some time before kindergarten, I just found the sound of the language make me feel as if someone is clutching and scratching my spine, if that makes sense. The sensation stayed relatively the same over the years. If someone is speaking a dialect, I would generally not have as strong an aversion to it… This “condition” has been bothering me for as long as I can remember…” ( 笑一 杨, https://www.quora.com/Are-there-people-with-a-phobia-of-speaking-their-own-first-language)

Causes of Endoglossophobia

At present, there are no specific causes of endoglossophobia but the following can actually result to the situation.

(Kindly note: The use of language here also covers dialects and native also refers to indigenous vis-a-viz)

Hate for the language: This might sound funny but it is true. There are people who wake up hating the sound of their dialects or never want to do anything with their language. They just don’t want to hear it or use it for anything. This situation actually results from other factors like misconceptions on the language or dialect, strangeness of the language or dialect and more.

Misconceptions about the Language: There are lots of misconceptions about native languages especially those that are not widely spread. Some of these misconceptions are that: the language is not economically viable, it does not have global reach or can it be a potential global language, it does not have structure (mostly I have heard this referring to Nigerian Pidgin also known as Naija). These misconceptions make a native speaker to avoid his/her dialect totally and never want to be associated with it.

Non-exposure to the dialect: This is a pathetic situation. Non-exposure to the language is resulted by a number of factors including but not limited to:

Banning the speaking of the language in the home
Growing up far away from the environment the language is spoken
Expose to other languages than that of the native language
Influence of the language of the environment one stays or grew up from with little or no interaction with the native language.
Language Apathy: Language apathy is a situation where a person does not have any interest in using a particular language. He or she does not have or even willing to develop feeling to learning or speaking the language. Once a person loses interest in his or her indigenous language, it definitely will result to endoglossophobia.

Symptoms of Endoglossophobia.

The following are some of the symptoms of endoglossophobia:

Feeling of anxiety when the language is spoken
Feeling unease amongst fellow native speakers
Unable to communicate with the language
Always wanting to make others join him or her to speak the language he or she communicates with
Often avoiding gathering where the language will be used as the communication means
Irritated whenever he or she hears the language
Always wants to avoid discussions that has to do with using the language
In severe cases, will avoid associating with people from his or her homeland
Effects of Endoglossophobia

Could lead to endophobia, the fear of one’s native people
Excommunication from family discussions and decisions
Could result in losing vital positions and information in the community
Could lead to neglect and disrespect from own people
Could lead to hatred of the language
Treatment to Endoglossophobia

Willingness and developing interest for the language
Willing to learn and speak the language
More exposure to the language
Consult a language therapist to take you through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT is often used on people that have anxiety disorder

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Ace aka Undergragra is a 500 Level Computer Engineering Student in the Federal University Oye-Ekiti. He is a passionate teacher,writer,educational consultant and educational informant.
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