Ethnographie des Sprachwechsels

Ethnographie des Sprachwechsels

ISBN 978-3-927620-25-4

Ethnographie des Sprachwechsels

Sozialer Wandel und Sprachverhalten bei den Yeyi (Botswana). With an English summary

Author: Gabriele Sommer. Series edited by: Hans-Jürgen Sasse †, Rainer Voßen.

Series: LCA Language Contact in Africa Volume 2

504 pp.
15 maps, 14 illustrations, 106 tables
Text language(s): German
Format: 160 x 240 mm
880 g
€ 69.80

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This ethnography of language shift among the Yeyi people of Ngamiland / Botswana, who are gradually giving up their language Siyeyi (R.40) in favour of Setswana (S.30), Botswana’s national language, comprises three parts. Firstly, the relevant socioeconomic, sociocultural, and historical factors that triggered off and accompanied the language shift process among the Yeyi are dealt with. Secondly, the sociolinguistic situation within two Yeyi speech communities (Seronga and Shorobe) is described and analysed.

Of primary interest in this regard are language attitudes, changes in speech behaviour, and patterns of language acquisition of both contact languages, Siyeyi and Setswana. Thirdly, the situation of individual (bilingual) speakers is taken into account which is determined by the historical developments and the governmental language policy. The latter favours the numerically dominant Tawana ethnic group and their language Setswana officially, in compliance with the ideology of vernacularization, not excluding assimilation processes of minority languages.

The work contains an extensive summary in English, exposing further the discussed contact-induced language change.

Under these links you will find publications by the author, a grammar of Yeyi, descriptions of neighbouring Bantu languages of southern Africa and further studies of language contact in Africa:

Accompanying material:



[...] the volume can be highly recommended to students of anthropology or linguistics before they embark on their first own fieldwork.

Helma Pasch in Language in Society, 278/1, 1998

Social change and speech-behaviour among the Yeyi (Botswana) appeared as the second volume in the series Language Contact in Africa (H.J. Sasse & R. Vossen (eds.)). It constitutes an almost clinical investigation into cirumstances, conditioning the Siyeyi in Botswana. [...]

Sommer supports her reasoning with numerous map sketches and statistic tables. Important becomes Sommer’s method not to accept respondents’ self-assessments as self-evident but to cross-check the data, for example by means of lexical/grammatical tests

Rajmund Ohly in Afrika und Übersee, 80, 1997, 141f

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