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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Bilin: speaker status strength and weakness
Author:Kifleyesus, AbbebeISNI
Periodical:Africa: rivista trimestrale di studi e documentazione
Geographic term:Eritrea
Subject:Omotic languages
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40761499
Abstract:This article, which is based on field research in 1997, 1998 and 1999, examines the causes and effects of language shift in Eritrea, using the Bilin language as a case in point. The Bilin, who currently comprise about 2.5 percent of the population of Eritrea, inhabit the Sänhit area of the 'Ansäba valley. The Bilin language is the northernmost Agaw dialect, i.e. it belongs to the Central Cushitic language group. The Bilin speech communities live scattered over various locations and are surrounded by growing numbers of pastoral Tegrä and (semi)urban Tegreñña-speaking groups. Administrative exchanges, mass media transmissions, and most official business are conducted in Tegrä or Tegreñña, the public languages of the area. The use of these two languages in schools, intermarriage between Bilin and Tegrä or Tegreñña, and economic and social interactions are among the factors that are causing the gradual displacement of the Bilin language. A 'drift' toward Tegrä in rural areas and towards Tegreñña in urban places has been more apparent in recent times, but it has not led to a complete 'shift'. The survival of Bilin will depend on its symbolic strength. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in French and Italian.