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Lüpke, Friederike (2015) 'Ideologies and typologies of language endangerment in Africa.' In: Essegbey, James, Henderson, Brent and Mc Laughlin, Fiona, (eds.), Language documentation and endangerment in Africa. Amsterdam; Phildelphia: John Benjamins, pp. 59-105.

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This chapter aims at redressing the deplorable fact that African languages, their social life and vitality, are assessed according to ideas of Africa grounded in Western language ideologies and based and on language criteria developed based on American and Australian contexts of language endangerment. The chapter challenges the validity of these ideologies to account for language use in African setting and starts out by providing the necessary background on the history of description of African languages and on assumptions on their vitality as driven by colonial actors. It then paints a radically different picture of African languages by looking at them as codes in the multilingual repertoires of the language ecologies in which they are used and by describing the social factors that nurture the astonishing linguistic diversity on the continent. In order to do justice to the specificity of African language situations, where settlement colonies creating the conflictual polyglossic situations typical for America and Australia remain an exception, an alternative set of vitality parameters for African languages is proposed. The chapter closes with the observation that multilingual language use as a socially embedded practice in complex linguistic ecologies needs to become a focus of descriptive and documentary research on African languages.

Item Type: Book Chapters
Additional Information: PDF is only for SOAS-wide distribution, not for open access.
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of Linguistics
ISBN: 9789027244529
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2015 15:57

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