Volume 75, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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In view of its sociolinguistic situation and its mother tongue language policy Eritrea qualifies as an excellent site for comparatively investigating the acquisition and use of literacy in nine different languages (Tigrinya, Tigre, Afar, Saho, Bidhaawyeet, Kunama, Nara, Bilen and Rashaida) using three different scripts (syllabic Geez, alphabetic Latin and consonantal-alphabetic Arabic) within one and the same cultural and educational context. This contribution presents first results of a literacy survey with 670 Eritreans (which is part of a larger NWO-WOTRO research project). It goes into the respondents' level of literacy, their use of reading and writing in a number of societal domains, their use of the different scripts, and their preferences for the different scripts. A main outcome of the survey is that both, religion and ethnolinguistic group membership, play an important role in the use and positive evaluation of specific scripts. The majority of respondents report a preference for either Geez or Arabic, the scripts of the holy books of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Islam respectively, whereas the Latin alphabet, notwithstanding the official support it gets and the fact that it is used for six out of nine Eritrean languages, hardly plays a societal role.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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