Language transmission and use in a bilingual setting in rural Tanzania

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When studying languages in a bi- or multilingual language contact situation, it is necessary to go beyond the schematic evaluations and scales describing language endangerment which have been developed over the last decades. Here the case of the Tanzanian language Ngoni, represented by quantitative sociolinguistic data from fieldwork in a rural area in the Ruvuma Region in Tanzania, shows that a too general assessment can be misleading. In Tanzania it is the African language Swahili, and not the global language English and ongoing globalization, which at present represents the major threat to other African languages and the maintenance of these languages. The study indicates that Ngoni is more at risk than would have been judged from endangerment scales.


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