Ethnic Language Shift: the Case of Nao


Wednesday 6 November, 11.30-12.00, E0104

From linguistic point view, the single most important characteristic of Ethiopia is linguistic diversity. This fact establishes the existence of a multiplicity of ethno-linguistics communities within the nation. Each linguistic community is in turn characterized by an autonomous ethno-linguistic identity. However, this diversity is being crashed by language shift and cultural assimilation. The focus of this paper is on language shift of Nao, a minority language spoken in South West of Ethiopia. The main intention of this paper is to give an account of the underlying factors that have contributed to language shift Nao language and to investigate whether there are efforts to avert the ongoing language shift. This was to be achieved through the analysis of Paulson’s theory of social mobilization. 

As is the case with some indigenous languages around Ethiopia, the Nao language is shifting to Kefinoono language. The study result show that member of ethno linguistic minorities are increasingly abandoning their language in favor of another, both in formal and informal domains. In conjunction with speaker community, there are no intervention both by scholars and government and non-governmental organizations in averting the ongoing language shift. As to the factors affecting language shift, the result in this study show that the formation of ethno linguist identity was affected by degree of contact, cultural similarity, demographic factors and language community lack of motivation in using the language in informal domains. 
Based on these findings, this paper recommends that to ensure reversing Nao language shift holistic efforts should be made by community members and various stake holders.