Article : The Dynamics Of Language Shift And Maintenance In Wolaita And Dawuro Languages


The Dynamics Of Language Shift And Maintenance In Wolaita And Dawuro Languages


Abraham Kebede, Aklilu Abera,

The purpose of this study was to survey the factors of language shift and to point out the process of maintenance strategies in Wolaita and Dawuro languages. To this end, various issues regarding the factors for language shift were briefly raised and the possible language maintenance strategies were pointed out. In general, the study included 3590 respondents from the two zones based on the number of population residing in the towns under study and by purposively selecting 29 key respondents for interview and focus group discussion from the zones based on their knowledge and experience of the languages. The data obtained through questionnaire, interview and focus group discussion were analyzed by using both qualitative and quantitative analysis based on the nature of the data. In addition, the factors that caused language shift were similar in their nature. These include historical factors, social network/institutions/, religious impacts, mother tongue education, the role of media, the role of governmental and nongovernmental organizations. Hence, it was found out that the language shift problem is relatively more serious in Dawuro than in Wolaita. According to the study, historical factors played a major role in the process of language shift in the languages. However, as to the study, the language maintenance process has gained a new momentum during the time of the current government. During this time, new education policy along with new language policy was put into practice to stimulate the revival of the marginalized languages including the languages under consideration. However, there is still rampant problem in the widespread use of these languages by the public in their daily communication. Particularly, the problems emanate from lack of positive attitude, lack of proficiency in the language especially in reading and writing, and high pressure from the dominant languages. Therefore, to improve the problem, various awareness creating activities should be carried out by the government and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, intellectuals, elders and other sections of the society should contribute their part. The aforementioned stakeholders should also educate the public in a bid to create a rational nationalism to value their language and culture. Finally, the media should play a key role in raising the awareness of the public to correct the misperception about their language, culture and their overall identity 

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