Inter-Dialect maintenance and shift in the contact of Lubukusu and Lutachoni
Wanjala, William Barasa
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Despite efforts by the UNESCO and CIPL in devoting attention to language endangerment and introducing the ‘Red Books’ that monitor the status of threatened languages, other nongovernmental organizations like the US based Terralingua focused on promoting linguistic diversity through biodiversity, CEL for identifying endangered languages in Kenya, the Kenyan government through MoE in promoting the use of L1s at lower primary and linguists like Joshua Fishman coming up with language revitalization models, there still exists cases of minority languages being threatened by shift due to pressure from dominant languages. The purpose of this study was therefore to investigate the effect of inter-dialect contact between Lubukusu and Lutachoni in Tongaren Constituency of Bungoma North District, Bungoma County. The specific study objectives were to find out dominant dialect in the contact of Lubukusu and Lutachoni, investigate effects of institutional control factors in promotion of dialects and finally investigate the influence of age on language maintenance and shift. The study was guided by two theories: Ethnolinguistic vitality theory which reasons that maintenance/shift of a language is based on a group’s vitality to act collectively in intergroup situations; and Domain theory which explains the dominance of languages in domains based on the choice of interlocutors and the language they maintain in different environments for different purposes. Purposive, sampling was used to select the Bukusu and the Tachoni while stratified sampling was used to get proportions of three age groups. Simple random sampling was used to identify 33 respondents in every age group for both the Bukusu and the Tachoni. A sample size of 198 respondents was obtained. Data were collected using a closed ended questionnaire because the researcher wanted to limit the responses to the two dialects, while interview schedule was used to collect data from respondents in societal institutions. The study used mixed methods research design. Qualitative data were analyzed by content analysis to get information on institutional promotion of the dialects. Quantitative data were analyzed using frequency and percentage tables. Line and bar graphs were used to present information on the maintenance/shift patterns in the two dialects. Chart analysis tools were used to show the maintenance/shift trend of the two dialects across the different domains arranged from the less public to more public. The study found out that in the contact of the two dialects, Lubukusu is dominantly maintained in the domains used in the study. There is a significant co-relation between the dominant dialect and institutional support. These findings imply that there should be more institutional support of dialects because it does contribute to maintenance. In line with this, the study recommends that the government should reconsider licensing societal institutions that promote dialects especially in mass media and education. This will not only be significant in promoting the world’s linguistic diversity but also safeguard linguistic and cultural identity of the Tachoni. The study contributes to further research into Luhya inter-language competition phenomena focusing on Lubukusu and Lutachoni.