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Title:Language maintenance and shift in communities of oral tradition: The case of the Sillanko of Burkina Faso (West Africa)
Author(s):Kedrebeogo, Gerard
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bokamba, Eyamba G.
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Abstract:The problem. This study investigates the ongoing sociolinguistic situation of the Sillanko, a linguistic minority of Burkina Faso (West Africa). The objective is to assess the chances for the Sillanko remaining a separate group and the risks for their becoming linguistically assimilated to the Moose or to the Fulbe, the two major ethnolinguistic groups they are in contact with.
Results. The results of the study reveal that the Sillanke community comprises two sub-groups: the Sillanko-Su and the Sillanko-Zi. The former originally migrated from Nyoro (Mali) and the latter were their slaves. Through intermingling and intermarriage with the Fulbe, the Sillanko-Su who are essentially herders have practically lost their language, Sillanka, to the advantage of Fulfulde. On the other hand, the Sillanko-Zi who are peasants and primarily practice endogamy have preserved the language. As a whole, the Sillanke community is trilingual. Sillanka, Fulfulde and Moore are used daily in two basic domains: in-group (home and community), and out-group (the market place, or the administrative services) communication situations. The study shows that the Sillanko generally have a very positive attitude toward their language which they perceive as being the substantial part of their cultural identity. The Sillanko, however, are aware of the limited value of Sillanka in the "language market", and that explains their readiness to learn other languages. Rather than being "an exposure to risks", multilingualism not only allows them to participate in mainstream life but also serves as a strategy to keep their language and their cultural identity.
Conclusions. Previous investigations of language maintenance and shift have taken primarily European and North American perspectives and have dealt with contact situations involving substantially two languages: a dominant or mainstream language on the one hand, and a minority language on the other.
This study indicates that the contact situation can be complex, and that language maintenance or language shift in communities of oral tradition like the one of the Sillanko does not necessarily follow the same patterns as in the Western world.
Because it considers a contact situation that has not been explored thus far, the present study broadens the empirical basis of language maintenance and language shift as a field of inquiry within Sociolinguistics. In this way, it also extends our understanding of language contact phenomena and, therefore, contributes to the formulation of a more integrated theory of language maintenance and language shift. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Kedrebeogo, Gerard
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9624384
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9624384

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