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
Sociolinguistic functions of the secret language of Gurage females
This paper is concerned with the sociolinguistic functions of the secret language spoken by a minority group within the Gurage, namely the Fedwet. This is the name of the speakers and the linguistic variety, mainly used by women who were followers of a former local religious tradition in Gurage found in southern Ethiopia. The qualitative approach of data gathering and analysis was used. Primary data were gathered by elicitation of words, recording of free texts and interviews. A total of 20 consultants participated in the interview, 12 of them also participating in the elicitation of words and the performance of texts. The interview responses were quantified for a descriptive statistical analysis. It was found that the sociolinguistic functions of Fedwet include the establishment of a secret communication among young girls to form a specific identity, and for various religious purposes. The motive for using it is related to the social position of women and the traditional belief system of Gurage.
Keywords: sociolinguistic function, gender, secret language
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