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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:At the margin: African endangered languages in the context of global endangerment discourses
Author:Lüpke, FriederikeISNI
Year:2009
Periodical:African Research and Documentation
Issue:109
Pages:15-41
Language:English
Geographic term:West Africa
Subjects:Bainouk-Gunyaamolo language
Yalunka language
sociolinguistics
Abstract:Africa hosts about 2,000 of the approximately 6,000 languages of the world. The majority of African languages have received only little or no linguistic attention to date, despite the fact that many of them are spoken by millions as a first or second language. In addition, a large number of African languages can be classified as endangered on diverse grounds. This paper explains the neglected status of African languages, both within linguistic description and documentation (LDD) and endangered language research (ELR). Drawing on two case studies from West Africa, Jalonke and Baïnouk, it points to a number of factors that distinguish the sociolinguistic contexts of these languages from those of languages more influential in shaping global discourses on language endangerment. It argues that African languages are different because their loss is rarely felt as tragic by their speech communities, since in most cases the language that replaces them already belongs to the multilingual repertoire and to a similar culture. The paper also discusses differences in research traditions and priorities that may contribute to hindering advances in the description and documentation of African languages. It concludes with some thoughts on how African languages might influence and alter some dominant narratives of language endangerment. Bibliogr., notes. [ASC Leiden abstract]
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