Language maintenance or shift? attitudes of Bakalanga youth towards their mother tongue
PublisherRoutledge (Taylor and Francis)/www.routledge.com
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This article reports the findings of a study whose objective was to investigate whether there was a likelihood of a language shift (or loss) from Ikalanga (a minority language spoken in Botswana) to either Setswana or English. The focus of the investigation was 17-25 year olds. The findings indicate that although Ikalanga (unlike indigenous languages like Khoe and Shekgalagadi) is not under imminent threat of loss, there are, nevertheless, clear indications of a gradual shift to Setswana. This conclusion was reached based on informants’ language use patterns and their attitudes towards using their mother tongue, particularly around people with a different mother tongue from them. The results show that informants use Setswana frequently, even in domains where they could use their mother tongue, e.g. when speaking to peers from the same mother tongue. In addition, the responses to a question which required them to indicate which language(s) they would use with their children show that the subjects embrace linguistic diversity (a large majority indicated they would teach their children Ikalanga, Setswana and English), showing no clear conviction to Ikalanga. Some of the subjects also expressed negative feelings towards using their mother tongue around non-native speakers of the language.
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