The sociolinguistic situation in Africa by a. sosal a.
By Ahmed Sosal A.Department of Linguistics University of Khartoum December 2011
IntroductionAfrican sociolinguistic studies the patterns of 1. Language use 2. Language variation and 3. Language changeWhich are due to complex patterns of interlocking factors, mainly historical, geographic, ethics,cultural and social. The study of language use and language variation among monolinguals is alsoan integral part of African sociolinguistics which involves: Spread and decline of lingua franca, The emergence of pidgins and creole languages, Different types of code-mixing and Extinction of languages (language death).African sociolinguistics also deals with instances and strategies of language maintenance andlanguage shift when languages come under stress.African sociolinguistics, therefore, studies the status and functions of each and every language ina given African society or state, and politics and implementation strategies of maintaining orchanging the status and functions of language. Applied African sociolinguistics deals with aspectssuch as Language planning, Language standardization and Language and politics.
Map: African languages phyla 1. Language variationVariety relatively neutral term used to refer to languages and dialects. Avoids the problem ofdrawing a distinction between the two, and avoids negative attitudes often attached to the termdialect. (Meyerhoff Miriam 2006:28). For example the term idiolectal varieties refer to differentways of speaking between two speakers whereas; single speaker can use different codes orregisters which can be due to different communicative purposes. 1.1. Language vs. dialectLanguage is the sum total of all it is varieties (dialects, sociolects, idiolects, codes and registers)for instance Hausa language has several dialects among them Aderanci, Kastinanci andGaduranci.Dialect is a term widely applied to what are considered subvarieties of a single language.(Meyerhoff Miriam 2006:27). The term „dialect‟ in sociolinguistics is used to describe the speechcharacteristic of a region (regional dialect) or of a group of people defined by social oroccupational characteristics rather than by region alone (social dialect) (Mesthrie Rajend et al.2004:70). In addition there are border dialects: which are varieties that sandwiched between twoofficially recognized languages. (Mesthrie Rajend et al. 2004:38)Outside linguistics, the term dialect may have quite negative connotations. These may berevealed implicitly rather than explicitly. For example, on Bequia (the Caribbean island), peoplespeak a variety of English which differs radically from the Standard English used in NorthAmerica, the UK or Australasia. Bequians generally call the variety they speak Dialect. Whenresearchers ask people to describe the local variety, locals will often contrast Dialect with whatthey call proper or good English. The opposition between good and dialect forms of Englishimplies that dialect is bad and is linked to all sorts of attitudes about the local variety, such aswhere and when it is appropriate to talk Bequian and where it is not. (Meyerhoff Miriam2006:28)Language vs. dialect (Mesthrie Rajend et al. 2004:70-71):
In ordinary usage, the distinction between language and dialect is a political rather than a linguistic one. The way a speech continuum is cut up and labelled in the „real world‟ is often based on political factors. Where the distinction between the two (language and dialect) is not significant for the analysis being done, linguists prefer to use the term „variety‟. Many linguists consider all dialects of a language to be equal, unless proven otherwise. That is, everyone‟s way of speaking is equally valid and capable of conveying fine nuances of meaning. Some linguists, however, believe that not all dialects are equal. In particular, the standard variety of a community may have the advantage over others in matters like vocabulary development for more technical and formal purposes. The standard form of a language is a sociohistorical product rather than an entity that necessarily pre-dated other varieties of that language. Because of the above two considerations, it can be said that everyone speaks a dialect. However, the dialect of the most prestigious (and powerful) speakers on which the standard is based is seldom labelled a dialect by non-linguists. Accent is often part of the defining feature of a dialect, but may be separated from it. It is possible to speak the standard form of a language while using an accent associated with a particular region.Finally, it is a fact that there are no purely „linguistic‟ ways of differentiating whether a variety is„a language or a dialect‟. (Mesthrie Rajend et al. 2004:72) 1.2. Social stratification, identity and languageLanguage behavior is social behavior and reflects social stratification, which is part of everysociety.Social stratification: It implies a hierarchical relationship of „higher‟ and „lower‟ in terms ofprestige, power and privileges in sociological terms: status and role.Ethnic identity: Language can be used as a reliable criterion for ethnic identity in both directions:group-internal and group-external. By their language behavior, speakers identify themselves asmembers of the same group as much as they are identified by others as belonging to differentgroup. Ethnicity different groups may share the same language and patterns of language behavior,such as Hutu and Tutsi in Ruanda and Burundi which provide a fact the shared language dose notprevent societies from suffering from serve internal conflicts, civil war and even genocide. Thedegree of social stratification participates in the process of the recognition of „social groups‟within societies. Even in societies which appear to be ethnically more or less homogeneous,linguistic differences exist which can be linked to cultural and social differences within thesociety such as the social class and caste.Social variation of speech: Is found in situations such as in where one should speak or rather besilent, who to speak to and who never to speak to directly, the choice and avoidance of certainvocabulary items, etc. Social change will also change language behavior: children will changetheir speech habits when growing older, once following father or being elected as traditional rulera person linguistic behavior will change too.
1.3. Sociophonentics and linguistic accommodationThe various lects (dialect, sociolects) are not homogenous as they involve different accents whichallow other speakers to specify a person‟s location more precisely.AccentAccent refers to situation where speakers differ (or vary) at the level of pronunciation only(phonetics and/or phonology), so they can be described as having different accents. Theirgrammar may be wholly or largely the same. Accents can index a speaker‟s regional/geographicorigin, or social factors such as level and type of education, or even their attitude. (MesthrieRajend et al. 2004:27).Linguistic accommodationSpeakers are aware of linguistic variation and how social hierarchies are reflected by differentlects. They have strategies to accommodate to other lects if need arises. Linguisticaccommodation is found in both directions along the social hierarchy scale: same speakers canadapt to „higher varieties or to „lower‟ varieties.Accommodation theoryAccommodation theory has much in common with the tradition of social identity theory:accommodation theory is a bundle of principles that are intended to characterise the strategiesspeakers use to establish, contest or maintain relationships through talk. The original statement ofthe theory by Howard Giles (1973) focused on speech behaviours alone, but developmentsfollowing in Giles‟s footsteps have expanded the scope of the research so as to include strategiesin non-verbal communication behaviours as well. The field is, therefore, sometimes referred to asspeech accommodation theory and sometimes as communication accommodation theory.(Mesthrie Rajend et al. 2004:72)Speakers may consciously undertake either strategy, but it is important to note thataccommodation may occur well below the speaker‟s level of conscious awareness (this issometimes misunderstood by linguists, who think that attunement and accommodation areconsciously controlled moves in a conversation). (Mesthrie Rajend et al. 2004:73) 1.4. Language as a social bondIn multilingual environments patterns of code-mixing can be used for signaling social nearnessamong speakers who share the same language whereas, foreign accent for instance can result inmore or less subtle acts of exclusion by native speakers. In dialogue, language behavior is used toeither bridge social gaps by linguistic accommodation, or create social distance by shifting toanother language altogether.Ritual Language (Storch Anne 2010) languages used in ceremonies and rituals shaped by the social and cultural practices of the speaker communities in which they occur used to construct and maintain group boundaries, either by the creation of alternate vocabularies, or by semantic manipulation, deviation from “normal” syntax, and so on besides social and phatic functions, ritual language has illocutionary meanings which reflect cultural ideologies and collective memory, for example by referring to religious belief systems and hierarchies. 1.5. Language use in African cultural contexts
As same as anywhere in the world, Africa various cultures have developed specific patterns oflanguage use. One of the best known of culturally determined language use in Africa are theterms of avoidance (taboo) and respect among for instance the Xhosa and Zulu in Southern Africareferred to as ‘hlonipa’.There are cultural habits in certain societies have to choose between at least two forms ofpersonal pronouns for direct address in an immediate linguistic reflex of communication distanceas related to relevant social variables. Among the factors and strategies which govern lexicalchoice guided by wish to behave socioculturally or politically „correct‟ are language taboos (i.e. avoidance of proper names and certain words for instance sex/gender-specific pronouns and compounds) and the certain of euphemism and neologisms (often circumscription and/or highly „technical‟ words of foreign etymological heritage) to replace words with negative or too specific connotations.In several Bantu languages spoken widely across southern Tanzania and Mozambiqe plural formsare used when addressing a single person in order to indicate respect. Another example found inlanguage of the Janjero in Ethiopia where there are three-step structure of society: (a) The king‟s language, (b) Language of respect and (c) Common language.We find I Africa examples of „scared‟ language for special religious activities and of „secret‟language not allowed and often incomprehensible to non-members of a particular group ofpeople. 1.6. Domains of language useThe term „domains‟ in sociolinguistics is when the same set of participants typically use the samelinguistic variety when they speak in particular sitting or sociocultural context on a topic which isalso typical for that occasion.In monolingual speech communities, speakers tend to use different varieties (codes, registers) oftheir mother tongue for different domains. In multilingual speech communities speakers may usedifferent languages altogether. For instance at university, the registers used for speaking aboutexamination problems to fellow students, professors or the vice-chancellors may varyconsiderably. 1.7. Language attitudeLinguistic prejudice that is culturally inherited positive or negative prejudice about languages andlanguage varieties is probably universal human characteristics. One may like or dislike a languageor a particular dialect of one‟s own language. For example, the African „vernaculars‟ or„ethnic/tribal‟ language vis-à-vis is the most prestigious „national language or even the „official‟or often imported language of the country.
Linguistic Ideologies (Storch Anne 2010)Linguistic awareness, which enhances the speakers‟ social and political agency, contributes to thecreation of a specific type of sociolect or register, by consciously making a meaningful choice ofspecific grammatical techniques. Linguistic ideologies refer to the complex organization ofknowledge and attitudes to own and other languages, which is shared by speakers. Somediagnostics and components of linguistic ideology are: (a) DynamicsImportant factors in shaping language change: ways in which speakers rationalize the structure of their language how speakers are aware of differences between their language and neighboring languages reflect speakers‟ ways of thinking about language changeExamples: evolution of expressions of politeness and respect in the Amharic pronoun system,distribution of kinship terms in noun-class systems in Diola-Kuwaatay, changes in SouthernBantu phonological systems. (b) Interests heightened and pragmatically “marked” forms of communication are reflected upon more consciously by speakers than “normal language” language ideologies could be much more pronounced when referring to manipulated language than to ordinary forms of communication Kroskrity (2007: 501 ff.): claimed that language ideologies are multiple and have various levels speakers often identify loanwords more easily than borrowed grammar -> avoid loanwords awareness of how language is correct or foreign = type of evidence for the existence of local language ideologies that are coupled with social and political interests linguistic beauty is often linked to properties that differentiate a speaker‟s own language from neighboring languages (c) Multiplicity ideologies are based on social experience help to organize relationships between different interest groups may include prescriptive tendencies are multiple in having many meanings (reflecting the plurality of social divisions) Awareness various degrees of awareness of local language ideologies ideas mediate between society and forms of language speakers may be able to talk about ideologies and express their feeling towards these constructions refer to ideological models in specific linguistic practices example: predication in Sarwa is considered difficult because of the rich system of aspect stems in this language. A speaker referred to the phenomenon of marking perfective and imperfective aspect by using two different forms of the verb by distinguishing the two as “male” and “female” verb forms (Jungraithmayr 2002). (d) Terminology are there any pre-colonial local concepts of grammar? Existence of metalinguistic discourse as a basis for negotiations? creation of “local grammar” parallels the intensively ongoing debate on the creation of orthographies and non-Western writing systems as expressions of local linguistic and cultural identities (Pasch & Kootz 2008)
2. The social and cultural dimension of language change 2.1. Language change in timeLanguage change because society changes! Social change is on of the factors contributing to theinevitability of linguistic change which reflects the complex relationship between speaking, socialbackground, functional aspects of language use and linguistic norms. The factors whichcontribute to language change are divided into to types as follows: i. The non-linguistic factors (a) Isolation, migration and language contact, (b) Imperfect language acquisition and learning, (c) Modernization and (d) Social mobility and prestige. ii. Linguistic (language-internal) factors (a) Ease of pronunciation, (b) Analogical realignment, (c) Grammaticalisation and (d) Universal (implicational) typology 2.2. Language change in spaceDialects are the abstraction from several idiolects which reflect the same regional background andmany other social factors such as sex, age, occupation, etc.SociolectsThe term sociolects emerged in the 1960s with the increasing awareness that traditional studies oflinguistic variation which concentrated on the geographical distribution of linguistic variableswere ignoring much linguistic variation. Sociolects are commonly defined as varieties oflanguage determined by social environments or associated with a particular social group (Danesi1985, 120f; Löffler 1994, 123ff). (Von Herausgegeben et. al. 2004:244-245)Accent vs. dialectWhen linguists talk about accents, they are referring only to how speakers pronounce words,whereas they use dialect to refer to distinctive features at the level of pronunciation andvocabulary and sentence structure. (Mesthrie Rajend et al. 2004:27). For example in Hausalanguage speakers from Niger are easily recognized by pronouncing [h] and [m], whereasNigerian Hausa speakers pronounce [f] and [u] for accent differences consider the followingtable:Niger/Non-standard Nigeria/Standard meanings[tahi] [tafi] „go‟[zamna:] [zauna:] „sit, dwell‟Other examples show up between dialects observe the following examplesNiger/Non-standard Nigeria/standard
[zâ: ni tahiya:] [zân tafi] „I will go‟Mutual intelligibilityIs a situation in which speakers from different parts of a country or even from different countriesmanage to understand each other in with more or less difficulty when each of them use theirparticular idiolect and dialectal variant, a reason can make us to say that they share the samelanguage.Mutual intelligibility evaluate whether speakers of one Language (or variety) can understand thespeakers of other Language (or variety) and vice versa. It is a more finely grained measure and isused primarily to measure the closeness of two varieties already known to be close, closer thanvarieties evaluated by the comparative method. (Childs 2003:54)IsoglossIsogloss can be identified on all levels of linguistic structure as follows: Isophones which related to phonetic and phonological features, Isomorphs refers to morphological features, Isosems related to semantic features and Isolexes related to lexical items that is vocabulary. 3. MultilingualismNo nation in the world is completely monolingual. In some cases, this is due to the way modernnation-states have been composed on the basis of rough geographic boundaries and because ofhistorical political allegiances and conquest. Nowadays, it is also because of the ease and speed ofmovements of people between different nations. However, some nations officially considerthemselves to be monolingual (e.g., Greece), and the historical reasons why they decide toforeground a single language in education and politics gives us interesting insights into how ideasabout culture, race, self-determination and identity have developed in parallel to one another.(Mesthrie Rajend et al. 2004:103).In multilingual communities, different languages have more or less vitality in different(institutional, social or personal) domains. In multilingual settings, the choice between languagescarries interactional force or implies something about the situation or the interlocutors. Onelanguage may be used for some social functions or in a specific social context, while anotherlanguage is reserved for other functions and contexts. (Mesthrie Rajend et al. 2004:103).Thus, multilingualism is a norm in Africa which is a fact can be approached from at least threedifferent perspectives: o Psycholinguistic perspective, o Sociolinguistic perspective and o Historical-linguistic perspective.Multilingualism can be divided into the following: (a) Multilingualism as a feature of sociolinguistic „nation-state profiles (b) Instances and forms of institutional multilingualism within given nation-state. (c) Individual multilingualism.The degree of multilingual competence among speakers of African languages varies in relation tointerlocking social factors. One could guess that at least 50% of the people living in Africa aremultilingual. On the other hand, the official language can coincide with the language of theformer colonial master is often only understood and actively used by less than 10% of thenational population as in most „Francophone‟ states, and somewhat higher as about 25% in„Anglophone‟ countries.Code-mixing
Code-mixing refers to any instances of interchanging usage of two or more languages within thesame conversation or discourse by the same bilingual speaker. Thus, it may take the form ofeither borrowing or code-switching proper.Code-switching„Code-switching in conversational strategy used to establish, cross or destroy group boundaries;to create, evoke or change interpersonal relations with their rights and obligations‟ (Gal1988:247). There are several factors contribute to the actual choice of language or code such as: The multilingual repertoire of the speakers involved, The social setting in which the communication take place, Number and identity of the speakers, The social role and status of the speakers, The social distance between the participants, The topic, The referential and The affective content of conversation.The varieties of code-switching range as follows: From simple tag switching Via interlarded speech To complete switches between monolingual utterances.Code switching is used in the following situations: When a new participant enters the verbal interaction, speakers will often switch codes. One may welcome and overtly involve a new participant by switching to the language higher on his/her affection scale. Topics related to particular domain may also result in switching to another language. Code-switching quite often take place at turn-taking points in dialogue as same as speaker‟s monologue. Code-switching is also used for pragmatic reasons such as warning and admonitions. 3.1. Language functions and diglossiaLanguage functionsLanguage may serve different functions in society and within multilingual communities differentlanguage may have different legal status in most of these societies these two may overlap.Some sociolinguistic typologies related to language functions distinguish between the following: (a) First language, which are acquired in the early years of ones age. (b) Second language, which are acquired or learned at a later stage in life. (c) Major or majority languages, judged by the number of speakers. (d) Minor or minority languages, also judged by the number of speakers. (e) Special-purpose languages, which are used for religious and/or educational purpose like. (f) Standard (ised) languages, which are used for official and educational purposes. (g) Non-standard (ised) languages, which have as yet little or no standardization or normalization. (h) Pidgin languages, which are specific, type of lingua franca. (i) Creole languages, which are usually former pidgin languages, become mother tongue language for at least some speakers. 3.2. DiglossiaClassically defined as a situation where two closely related languages are used in a speechcommunity one for High (H) functions (e.g., church, newspapers) and one for Low (L) functions(e.g., in the home, or market). The situation is supposed to be relatively stable and the languages/varieties remain distinct (cf. creole outcomes of language contact). Now often extended to refer to
any two languages (even typologically unrelated ones) that have this kind of social and functionaldistribution (Mesthrie Rajend et al. 2004:103).Diglossia is a relatively stable language situation in which, in addition to the primary dialects ofthe language (which may include a standard or regional standards), there is a very divergent,highly codified (often grammatically more complex) superposed variety, the vehicle of a largeand respected body of literature, either of an earlier period or in another speech community,which is learned largely by formal education and is used for most written and formal spokenpurposes but is not used by any sector of the community for ordinary conversation“ (Ferguson1959, 336). (Von Herausgegeben et. al. 2004:203)Thus, using different languages or varieties of the same language for different functions anddevelop corresponding patterns of language behavior often along a High-Low continuum relatedto social stratification and hierarchy. In most of the African countries the „high‟ variety is definedwith the official language this is quite often that of the former colonial master in Africa (English,French, Portuguese, Spanish) this is due to several factors such as (a) The high language(s) It is standardized and codified, Used for prestigious official functions, Employed on the upper level of educational system and It becomes associated with upward social mobility. (b) The low language(s) Often only deficiently standardized or not codifies, With little or no written literature and Difficult to compete in function and prestige.For example in South African with nine of eleven official languages of the country being Africanlanguages they are traditionally located towards the low end of the scale. 3.3. Linguae FrancaeLanguages which are habitually used by many non-native speakers for inter-groupcommunication are referred to as linguae fracae or „vehicular‟ languages. Such vehicularlanguages are unless they are pidgins having their own native speakers who may constitute amajority population. Examples are Hausa, Kanuri, Songay in West Africa, Sango in CentralAfrica, Swahili in East Africa, Arabic in northern Africa and Amharic in Ethiopia.The spread of linguae francae in Africa can result in increasing instances of language shift. Large-scale of language shift within speech community may then result in language death of the mothertongue. 3.4. Pidgins and creolesPidgin emerges under certain socioeconomic conditions along trade routes and coastlines and it ischaracterized by the following: i. Only used as a second language for restricted communication. ii. It is reduced in vocabulary and it is often said to lack grammar. iii. It is mixed with words and structural elements from surrounding local languages iv. Most significantly has no native speakers. v. Restricted to a narrow rang of functions and domains vi. Speakers of pidgin tend to have one other fully fledged language vii. Pidgins tend to be stigmatized as „marginal‟ language or as „corrupt‟, „broken‟ variants of the standard language.Although geared towards restricted functions, pidgins are linguistic systems in their own right,but they ca not compete neither structurally nor functionally nor socially with fully fledgedlanguages. When we speak about creolization is a case where some pidgins become mothertongue for section of the population.
Still, creoles are also looked down upon, even by their own native speakers as being inferior tothe corresponding (European‟ standard language. 3.5. Language under stress 3.5.1. Language shift and language deathSociolinguistic distinguish between „stable‟ and „unstable‟ diglossia which form the multilingualsetting stability in Africa. Dominant languages are thus to threaten non-dominant languages to theverge of extinction such threatened languages are called „endangered‟ languages as they losecommunicative function.Language die-out for lack of native speakers what result in what is called language death. InAfrica more than 100 languages are seriously endangered in this sense of approaching languagedeath (Brenzinger 1992, 1998). The major reason for language death besides genocide (e.g.Khoisan languages) is language shift which is typically occur in the case of migrant minoritieswho give up their language in favor of the language of their new environment. 3.5.2. Language maintenanceSpeakers develop strategies in order to avoid language shift and to support language maintenance.Prerequisite is a positive a positive attitude towards the mother tongue language as an importantresource for pride and identity of the speech community. Language maintenance is supported forinstance by Discouraging inter-ethnic marriages and keeping the language alive at home as the first language. Institutional support would involve active minority policies of regional or national governments by recognition as „national language‟.Language maintenance ten to result in case of „mixed‟ languages that is languages with non-linearancestry and broken transmission e.g. in Africa Ma‟a/Mabugu in Tanzania where speakers„maintain‟ for instance parallel lexical repertoire which are related to different languages, one ofCushitic other of Bantu linguistic affiliation.Language survival depends on the speakers, most importantly on their language attitudes andlanguage behavior. Several Amazigh languages have already become extinct, such as Sened inTunisia or Ghomara and Sanhaja of Srair in Algeria. Others, such as Zenaga in Mauritania andSawkna in Libya are under serious threat. Kabyle, Tamasheq and Tamazight are among thoselanguages, which spoken by large communities, seem to be safe.More than 70% of North Africans of Amazigh origins speak no Amazigh languages, but Arabiclanguages only. In Morocco and Algerian about 80% of the citizens are considered to be ofAmazigh origin, as are roughly 60% of those in Tunisia and Libya. Origin and identity does notnecessarily match. In the latter two countries, few citizens have maintained their Amazighidentity. In contrast, increasing numbers refer to themselves as Amazigh in Algeria and inMorocco. With 11 to 14 million speakers of Amazigh languages in total, only about half of thosewho currently claim their Amazigh identity still speak an Amazigh language. Obviously, to call aperson an Amazigh does no longer require any Amazigh languages competence. This is a mostthreatening fact for the vitality of Amazigh languages and serious indicator for its endangerment(Brenzinger Matthias 2007:128).
4. Language planning 4.1. Language standardizationGarvin and Mathiot (1960: 783) defined a standardized language as a „codified form of alanguage, accepted by, and serving as a model to, a larger speech community‟. In other words, thestandard form of a language is that dialect which is most often associated with specific subgroups(usually educated people or people having high status and authority within the society) and withspecific functions serving a community that goes beyond that of its native speakers (for examplewriting, education, radio and television) (Mesthrie Rajend et al. 2004:47).A fully fledged standard language has the following characteristics: It must enjoy recognition by the whole speech community, Reflect linguistic identity, Have or develop rich writing tradition, Be potentially equipped to encode all necessary modernization in its lexicon and Effectively used as a high variety.According to this only a small number of the world‟s languages are standard languages and thesame is true for the African languages. The most illuminating and successful cases of languagestandardization in Africa are fro various different reasons and possibly in that order, Africans,Swahili, Hausa, Somali and Shona.Status planning (social/external planning)Status planning is concerned with establishing and developing the functional usage of a particularlanguage or languages within a state. In particular, it concerns the choice of language to be usedas official language(s) and/or for educational or other cultural purposes.Corpus planningCorpus planning establishes and develops spelling norms, setting norms of grammar andexpanding the lexicon. There are certain requirements of actual language material which ca beplanned and implemented to from what is called corpus panning. These requirements are Modernization, Cultivation, Codification and Terminology.Language standardization involves several phases as shown below: 1. Determination: for both language status and the norm within a chosen language, which is to serve as standard frame of reference 2. Codification: is for language(s) with no writing system at all 3. Elaboration of vocabulary (modernization) and grammar (normalization) 4. Implementation of both languages status and the norms of standardization, that is creating and enhancing acceptance in speech communities 5. Cultivation of the so created standard languages by language authorities to ensure continued observance of the norms and control implementation 6. Harmonization which refers to the unification of distinct and sometimes quite distant dialects. 4.2. Language and politicsThe politics of languages concerned with The status of languages within the state,
Language rights for minorities and The implementation of status planning of languages.Language policies are guided by particular ideologies or ultimate goals as listed below byCobarrubias (1983): (a) Linguistic assimilation is most clearly seen in Portuguese, Spanish and French colonial policies in Africa. (b) Linguistic pluralism which involves the acceptance of non-monolingualism in its multifold manifestation as multilingualism. (c) Vernacularisation (i.e. endoglossic) (d) Internationalization (i.e. exoglossic) 4.2.1. National vs. official languagesLanguage policies will establish a functional hierarchy of official language(s), nationallanguage(s) and other languages spoken within the state and indicate their role and institutionalsupport.National language refers to some or all languages of the state in order to stress their function ofnational unity and identity. Such as in the current constitution of Niger all indigenous Africanlanguages are listed as („de jure‟) national languages. Both national languages and officiallanguages are utilized as symbols of national unity and reconciliation. 4.2.2. Endoglossic vs. exoglossic language policiesChoosing an African language as official language is referred to as endoglossic language policy,whereas opting for a foreign language is referred to as exoglossic language policy. The subtle ofpower balance between majorities and minorities will be dramatically effected by such policies.In most parts of Africa foreign languages have a peculiar status and play different roles such as: They are being used as official languages, They are used as medium of instruction in all the formal education system,So they are no longer treated as foreign languages since they are made to expand their originalspecial purpose function.ConclusionThis paper is an attempt to shed the light on some of those sociolinguistic terms in relation toAfrica in order to have a view on the sociolinguistic situation in Africa. So it investigateslanguage variations particularly the distinction between language and dialect as the Africancontinent is considered to contain vast number languages and dialects. Then the second part isconcerned with the notion of language change and it has been investigated from social andcultural dimensions through the diachronic perspective and the dialectological one. The next partaddresses the issue of multilingualism and its different implementations and concerns in Africa.The final part is concerned with the experience of language planning in African which involveslanguage standardization which is found before the colonization era in some African countries.Then there is a brief overview about language policies in Africa and the complications of theofficial and national languages.
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