Reacting to language endangerment
Language endangerment in Africa is of a different kind than it is in many other parts of the world. Globalization and the impact of languages such as English, French, or Portuguese are not a major problem for the maintenance of African languages. Language loss is no less a factor in Africa than it is elsewhere in the world, but the replacing languages are, with very few exceptions, not international languages such as those of the former colonial powers but rather fellow African languages (Sommer 1992; Brenzinger 2007a: 197; 2007b). On the basis of the research findings on language endangerment that exist it is possible to understand the main factors that can be held responsible for language replacement. But there is less information on why replacement does not take place – that is, why people in certain situations do not give up their heritage language in favour of some other language even if their sociolinguistic environment discourages such a behavior. This is the question looked into in the present paper, using the Akie, a traditional hunter-gatherer people in Tanzania as an example.