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Language Maintenance and Ethnic Identity in a Migrant Context

The Case of Citumbuka in Dowa District of Central Malawi

by Edrinnie Lora-Kayambazinthu

Malawi is linguistically heterogeneous, with 13 Malawian languages and their numerous dialects spoken within the country. As in most other African countries the language situation in Malawi is characterised by the asymmetrical coexistence of English, the official language; Cicewa, the national language; and 12 other indigenous languages and their varieties. The country consists of three geo-linguistic but interrelated regions: Northern, Central and Southern. The Northern part is arguably the most linguistically heterogeneous, with the Citumbuka language as the main regional lingua franca.

Malawi language policy decisions at different times have been ambivalent on the role of Citumbuka and from colonial times to-date, many changes in the status of Citumbuka have been observed. The introduction of Cicewa as a national language since 1968, and the ban on Citumbuka in the national radio and schools successfully curtailed the use of the language at the national level, but it continued to be used in the peopleĆ­s everyday lives. The 1998 population census report indicates that 88 per cent of Tumbuka speakers still use Citumbuka for in-group communication. This is a report on a study carried out to explore factors behind the survival of Citumbuka in Dowa district of Central Malawi.

ISBN 9789994455652 | 150 pages | 229 x 152 mm | 2011 | OSSREA, Ethiopia | Paperback




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