The two Kabiye orthographies
A sociolinguistic and linguistic comparison
Two orthographies have been developed for Kabiye, a Gur language spoken mainly in Togo. The first aim of this paper is to provide an accurate historical summary concerning their development, teasing out some of the sociolinguistic issues which led to their separate evolution. Following this, I present the results of a comparative analysis, based on a text sample. I demonstrate five major types of difference: level of representation (shallow or deep), degree of consistency, dialect choice, diacritical tone marking and word boundaries. For each of these I explain by what criteria each party arrived at its decisions. Locally, I hope that this analysis will contribute to well-informed choices should the Kabiye orthography ever be rectified in the future. But beyond this, the Kabiye experience will be of interest to anyone developing orthographies in other languages. With access to a varied stock of case studies such as this one, we will be in a better position to refine the existing principles of orthography development which can then be applied cross-linguistically.
Published online: 01 October 2008
Cited by 1 other publications
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