Vol. 89/90 (1990) ► pp. 49–64
Patterns of Language Use among Nigerian Undergraduate Learners of French in Togo
Studies in language use have become all the more relevant to Africa since they shifted from unilingual to multilingual situations. Multilingualism which until the 60's was not considered worthy of too serious a study by linguists has since attracted a lot of attention especially in the narrower field of sociolinguistics where attempts are being made to meet some of the challenges posed by the multiplicity of languages in otherwise homogeneous communities. African countries harbour a lot of examples : Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda, among others. There are two main ways in which the present study is different from earlier studies in multilingualism, even though, as we shall see later, the results are basically the same. In the first place, we are dealing here with a temporary situation of multilingualism in the strict sense that subjects are neither i-migrants nor natives but birds of passage whose length of stay is pre-determined (by their mission). The languages included in the interaction should therefore be seen as such. Secondly, while the study of language choice by analysts like A. Tabouret-Keller (1968), Gumperz and Eduardo (1971) and Stark (1989) seems to emphasize the connection between language use and "a variety of social factors such as ethnic identity, age, and sex..., degree of solidarity or confidentiality," (Gumperz et al. 1971:122) the nature of our samples (students) tends to demonstrate that in analysing the pattern of language choice, the effect of an external, super-imposed trigger such as the need to pass an examination may not be over-looked.