Chapter in:Grammatical and Sociolinguistic Aspects of Ethiopian Languages
Edited by Derib Ado, Almaz Wasse Gelagay and Janne Bondi Johannessen †
[IMPACT: Studies in Language, Culture and Society 48] 2021
Language contact and its effects on language use of the Gurage varieties of Muher
Social and linguistic contact between speakers of diverse Gurage varieties, as well as the influence of the surrounding Cushitic languages, has contributed to the establishment of widespread bi- or multilingualism. However, the actual extent and effects of language contact in the Gurage Zone are not clearly known. Therefore, the main objective of this research is to investigate language contact and its effects on language use of Muher. The Muher community lives in the north-western part of the Gurage Zonal administration of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Regional State. Muher speakers are bilingual in Amharic, the official working language of the country, and Ezha, one of neighboring languages the Gurage varieties. A mixed research method is used for data collection. The findings show that Muher is often used in the home and within the community, and is highly influenced by the dominant official working language of the country, Amharic, and the neighboring language, Ezha. It is very hard to find monolingual speakers of Muher. Amharic is used in all official settings in Muher, such as in schools, in court, in health centre’s and in administration. Muher children are bilingual with Amharic prior to starting school. Elders tend to use their mother tongues, while young people mix their mother tongue with the dominant language, or tend to speak Amharic. Generational transformation of Muher is decreasing in urban areas. In Wolkite and Hawariyat, most of the children have Amharic as their L1.
Keywords: language contact, language endangerment, language shift, language use, speech accommodation theory
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