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Title:Language contact in two border communities in Burkina Faso and Ghana. Lexical borrowings from French, English and African languages
Author(s):Beyogle, Richard
Director of Research:Fagyal, Zsuzsanna; Escobar, Anna Maria
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Fagyal, Zsuzsanna
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bokamba, Georges E; Bhatt, Rakesh
Department / Program:French and Italian
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Burkina Faso-Ouessa
Abstract:In this study, I investigate motivations for, and patterns of, lexical borrowing among Dagara-French and Dagara-English bilingual speakers as a function of age, sex, mobility, and degree of education in a multilingual border community where English and French are official state languages and Dagara is the shared local language. Dagara is a language spoken by about 1,400,000 people in the Northwestern corner of Ghana, the Southwestern part of Burkina Faso and the Northeastern part of Côte d’Ivoire. This partitioning is a well-known consequence of European colonization that created, in the early 19th century, an artificial political boundary and an ensuing official linguistic separation between two Dagara-speaking communities: the Anglophone Dagara on the northwest banks of the Volta River in Ghana and the Francophone Dagara on the southwest banks of the Volta River in Burkina Faso. This linguistic separation led to different language contact situations on each side of the political border. As in most African countries where the colonial language remains the official language of the nation, borrowings from multiple local and supra-local languages are a common phenomenon. Using fieldwork recordings from the two Ghana-Burkina border communities from a total of 100 participants analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, I show that the Dagara of Burkina Faso borrow predominantly from their official French language and, to a lesser extent, from English. The influence of French on the Dagara of Ghana is, on the other hand, minimal, as Dagara speakers in Ghana tend to borrow only from one ex-colonial language: their own official language, English. In addition to their respective official languages, speakers in both border communities borrow from local African languages that possess the greatest instrumental value by providing access to local economic ressources. The majority of borrowings attested in the corpus undergoes phonological and morphological adaptation and includes complex patterns of hybridization and native creations from multiple languages. Adaptations follow the Dagara internal word structure rather than the structure of the lending languages, although the preference of bilinguals for various adaptation strategies depends on the donor languages and the particular dialect of the Dagara language that they speak on a daily basis. The frequency of loanwords in both communities varies significantly with age, gender, and level of education. The results on attitudes indicate that a large majority of the participants are in favor of enhancing the status of the local Dagara language, even though status planning for the language does not seem to extend to education that remains exclusively dominated by ex-colonial languages. This study represents the first empirical study of borrowings in a lesser-known West-African language spoken in a local community divided by a major political boundary and, thus, subjected to different official language regimes. This study’s main theoretical contribution to the study of lexical borrowings lies in its proposal to extend existing paradigms of analysis to multilingual sub-Saharan African communities that share several local African languages while remaining divided by national political borders and different ex-colonial official languages.
Issue Date:2015-04-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Richard Beyogle
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-22
Date Deposited:May 2015

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