Language standardization efforts in Gurage

Abstract : Several Gurage varieties, which belong to Ethiosemitic, and the Cushitic languages K’abeena and Libido are spoken natively in the Gurage Zone. Although the two Cushitic languages represent linguistic minorities in the Gurage Zone, they have been reduced to writing and are used for primary education, and partly even administration and mass media, for some time. With the exception of Silt’e, which no longer belongs to the Gurage Zone, the results of ongoing language planning and standardization processes of Gurage varieties are rather meager. Despite ongoing efforts from Gurage intellectuals and administrators, as well as linguists involved in research on language standardization in Gurage, the implementation of a Gurage variety or several varieties as official language(s) at least in primary education is heavily impeded by political considerations, namely the fear of social unrest or separatism as an anticipated outcome of an “unwelcomed” language policy. The hypothesis that local political undecisiveness and fence-sitting hinders the implementation of a Gurage variety as official language in the Gurage Zone, will be outlined in this paper. First, I will summarize the findings of research on language standardization in Gurage and compare them with the results of linguistic capacity building efforts in the Gurage Zone. This comparison will show several options for the linguistic development of Gurage varieties as official languages in the Gurage Zone, which so far have all been neglected by the respective local political and administrative authorities.
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Ronny Meyer. Language standardization efforts in Gurage. 20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, Mekelle University, Sep 2018, Mekelle, Ethiopia. ⟨hal-02047237⟩



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