This book was conceived during the closing event of the DiM project, developed within the framework of the Erasmus plus KA204 - Strategic Partnerships for Adult Education programme. Its fourteen chapters intend to offer food for thought on some of the currently most debated questions for linguists in the global village, and are divided into three thematic sections: 1) multilingualism, minority languages and the eternal dichotomy between orality and writing; 2) lexicography and L2 teaching; 3) the role of linguistics in particularly complex multilingual contexts.
The book was published thanks to a grant obtained in 2018 by Regione Friuli Venezia Giulia.
Ilaria Micheli, coordinator of the scientific committee of the AtRA series, is Associate Professor in African Linguistics at the University of Trieste.
Flavia Aiello is Associate Professor in Swahili at the University of Naples “L’Orientale”.
Amelia (Lia) Pensabene is a teacher of English at the CPIA Avellino, where she was coordinator for the DiM project.
Maddalena Toscano is a former researcher and teacher of Swahili language at the University of Naples “L’Orientale”.
Emerging from centuries of Portuguese colonisation and a violent Indonesian
military occupation lasted 24 years (1975-1999), Timor-Leste became the first
sovereign state of the 21st century, in 2002. The Democratic Republic of Timor-
Leste adopted Portuguese and Tetun Dili as the two national languages and this
decision has been under debate since the birth of the nation, not just among
local politicians, but also among foreign consultants and scholars. Based on an
ethnographic fieldwork lasted 18 months, conducted between 2017 and 2018, this
paper aims to address the ambiguities regarding the linguistic diversity in Timor-
Leste. Local indigenous languages have been undergoing a process of governmental
recognition (being 20 the local languages mentioned in the Constitution as ‘mother
tongues’) and other international institutions have developed projects aimed to
their safeguard. However, often both in national institutions as well as to a more
grassroot level, the local linguistic diversity is considered more as a burden than
as an asset. By focusing on these local ambiguities, the paper aims to discuss the
interaction between linguistic prestige and status, as well as economic relations
embedded in the Timor-Leste national linguistic policies.
Nigeria exhibits an extraordinary linguistic diversity, both in terms of genetic
affiliation and sociolinguistic status. A large proportion of the 520 (and counting)
Nigerian languages are spoken by minority groups. In most cases, these groups are
subject to a process of linguistic and ethnic conversion that will lead to a reduction
in linguistic diversity and the consolidation of two main vehicular languages: Hausa
and Nigerian Pidgin. This paper will discuss the notion of minority language and the
idea of language endangerment, and consequently the factors that seem quintessential
in determining the sociolinguistic framework of tomorrow’s Nigeria.
Wolof language is knowing a period of rapid increment of its status and prestige,
which is making it, from being one of the several local languages of Senegal, the
second vehicular language of the country alongside with French. To this increasing
status, also a rapid evolution of Wolof literature is accompanied: this particular
development has started before the independency of Senegal, with the activity of
Muridiyya brotherhood at the beginning of the 20th. This paper aims at being an
introduction to the Wolof language from these two aspects: the socio-linguistic one,
where the extents and limitations of the employment of Wolof in Senegal will be
outlined, and the literary one, when the rapid developments in Wolof literature –
and particularly poetry – from the beginning of the last century will be presented.
This paper touches upon the process of mapping spoken languages onto writing
systems. Case studies relating to two endangered languages of Ethiopia, Ts’amakko
and Ongota are presented. The discussion concerns two kinds of mapping,
transcription for descriptive purposes and orthography for literary and literacy
purposes. It is shown that transcription is more scientific and precise but less
readable than orthography, that is more user-friendly for the wider public and the
community of speakers.
Tigrinya (Təgrəñña) is a Semitic language spoken in Eritrea and in the Ethiopian
regional state of Tigray (Təgray) by about seven million people. In Eritrea it is
also working and school language and the medium of a rich literature. Here, one
can find a brief discussion of the main issues concerning the history of language
and literature, as well as the development prospects of an idiom used in a highly
troubled African territory.