Lexical Variation in Spoken Lubukusu in Bungoma County, Kenya
Masika, Mary Nasambu
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This study investigated lexical variation in spoken Lubukusu, a language spoken by the Bukusu people in the Western part of Kenya. Research has shown that all languages vary at all levels and that these variations are caused by certain characteristics of the speakers of a language. Such variations cause incomprehensibility among speakers of different social groups. Lubukusu being a heterogeneous language exhibits variations at various linguistic levels. This study identified lexical variation in the spoken Lubukusu and established the correlation between the lexical variation and two social variables: age and gender. The causes and effects of lexical variation were also established. The study was guided by Labov‟s Variationist theory. This theory states that language varies at all levels and the variation is caused by certain social characteristics of the speakers of a language. A combination of both qualitative and quantitave research designs was adapted in the study and the area of study was Bungoma North Sub-County. A sample size of 24 speakers was selected using judgmental sampling and social network techniques. The respondents were interviewed and tape-recorded. The validity of the interview schedule was ensured by expert analysis and its reliability ensured by piloting. The data collected were sorted, coded and analyzed. The results were presented in tables, figures, frequencies, percentages and description. The findings of the study showed that there is lexical variation in the spoken Lubukusu in Bungoma North Sub-County. Out of the thirty words targeted by this study, twenty-nine registered two or more variants. It was further observed that there is a significant relationship between the linguistic variables and the speaker‟s age and gender. It was observed that both age and gender engender lexical variation in spoken Lubukusu. Age caused a greater degree of variation compared to gender. The results of this study contribute to the existing literature on Lubukusu and on language variation. The study has shown that the original Lubukusu words were rarely used; therefore, this study recommends the development of a dictionary of Lubukusu to record the deeper Lubukusu lexical items for future reference.