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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The making and unmaking of African languages: oral communities and competitive linguistic work in western Kenya
Author:MacArthur, Julie
Year:2012
Periodical:The Journal of African History (ISSN 0021-8537)
Volume:53
Issue:2
Pages:151-172
Language:English
Geographic term:Kenya
Subjects:Luyia language
dialects
standardization
spelling
language policy
colonial period
External link:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021853712000229
Abstract:This article examines the history of efforts to create a standard written language in western Kenya. In the 1940s, the Luyia Language Committee worked to standardize one Luyia language out of a set of diverse, distinct, and yet mutually intelligible linguistic cultures. While missionaries worked to imbue translations with ideals of Christian discipline, domestic virtue, and civilization, local cultural entrepreneurs took up linguistic work to debate morality, to further their political agendas, and to unite their constituents. Rather than subsume linguistic difference, these efforts at standardization reveal the dynamism of oral communities, and how they encouraged a culture of competitive linguistic work. Examination of these efforts challenges previous historians' insistence on the role of linguistic consolidation in the making and unmaking of political communities in colonial Africa. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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