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  • English(es) in West Africa

  • West Africa

  • Precolonial historyTrade between equal partners:

    The first Europeans in West Africa the Portuguese: the secondhalf of the 15th century: Ca da Mosto (the Gambia River in 1455)and Ferno do P (modern Nigeria in 1472)

    The first English trading stations in the 1620s (Sierra Leone) and1630s (Ghana), more followed in the second half of the century

    The boom of the trans-Atlantic slave trade of the 17th and 18thcenturies: massive structural changes in the West African societies

  • Colonial history

    Settlement projects in anglophone West Africa aimed at therepatriation of freed slaves from the New World

    The rise of large scale migration streams within but also between the different territories

    Expansion of the domains where English was used:

    government and of all official transactionseducation (after the first three years of primary education)the medium of expression of a new literature as well as that of interpersonal interaction among bilinguals in practically all conceivable situations

  • Postcolonial timeGaining their independence: Ghana 1957, Nigeria 1960, Sierra Leoneand the anglophone part of Cameroon in 1961 (the francophone part hadbecome independent in the previous year) and The Gambia 1965

    English is the official language in all of these countries, (in Cameroontogether with French), though in some cases (like The Gambia and Ghana)this has never been formally acknowledged in the constitution. The reasons:

    English is a major world language English is a neutral language that is thought to provide unity in ethnically and linguistically diverse political entities

    three main types of English spoken in West Africa:

    ENL (English as a native language)pidginized/creolized language ESL (English as a second language)

  • Standard English

    - Only a fraction of the population actually has a knowledge of English, asmaller part uses the language on a regular basis, and an even smaller onespeaks it as a native language

    - English is first and foremost acquired in school, but it is hard to say whatproportion of the population has a command of the language:

    no reliable figures exist there is a continuum ranging from broken varieties to (near-) native competence

    - Thus, only about 1020 % of anglophone West Africans actuallyspeak a form of Standard West African English (Wolf 2001, 195)

  • The varieties of English

    The native variety of non-Standard English: the creole language Krio inSierraLeone (473000 speakers) with its small offshoot Aku in The Gambia(8000) and Liberian Settler English in Liberia (69000). The speakers:

    - Descend from 19th century: ex-slave immigrants, mainly slavesfreed in the United States and from slavers off the Guinea Coast

    - Held most of the influential positions in the government, administration and the more westernized parts of society due to their close associationwith the US and Britain during the 19th century

    English-related Pidgin Languages such as Ghanaian, Nigerian, andCameroonian Pidgin English, which are structurally complex and related toSierra Leonean Krio

  • Language choiceA rough macrolinguistic generalization:

    English is used for formal settings, indigenous languages are for informal settings

    Multilingualism is very widespread in West Africa. What qualifies as alingua franca depends on:

    the functional rangethe area covered by the language

    The pidginized and creolized varieties of English as well as StandardEnglish serve as a national and supranational lingua franca

    The hierarchy of language choice:

    native/local language > local lingua franca > regional lingua franca > national language/English

  • 1. Sierra Leone:bordered by Guinea, Liberia and the Atlantic Oceanarea: 71 740 mpopulation: about 4.976.871 (2004 Population and Housing Census of Sierra Leone[1])capital: Freetownlanguages: English as official language, lingua franca Krio spoken by 97% of the population; 21 other languagesThe Creoles or Krio as first Western Black community (about 2% of the population) consist of the following groups

  • The groups of the Creoles or Krio:a) the Granville Sharp group: - consisting of 411 settlers who left Britain, returned to Africa and founded Freetown in 1787 - named after Granville Sharp, who fought for the abolition of slave tradeb) the Nova Scotians: - about 1131 former slaves who had fought for the British in the American War of Independence - came to Sierra Leone in 1792

    c) the Maroons: - about 550 slaves who had escaped from Jamaica and were deported to Sierra Leone in 1800

  • Sierra Leone: the historic overviewin 1807 Britain formally abolished slave tradein 1808 Sierra Leone was declared a British colonySierra Leone gained independence in 1961the Creoles as an educated Christian elite who had great influence on other English settlements along the coastKrio was thus of great importance for the spread of Pidgin in West Africa and spread as lingua franca throughout Sierra Leone (e.g. through media)Krio spread as lingua franca throughout the country and is a fully fledged creole language that derives some 80% of its vocabulary from English

  • West African Krio clip

    Sierra-Leone English soundfile

  • 2. Liberia

    bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cte d'Ivoire and the Atlantic Oceanarea: 111 369 mpopulation: 3 476 608capital: Monrovialanguages: English (official language) and 34 other languages (incl. Liberian Standard English and Liberian Pidgin English)has a special status among the English speaking countries in West Africa and a unique history because:

  • Liberia

    a) it was the first modern independent state in Africa (independence proclaimed in 1847)

    b) its historical and political ties to the US largely influenced the English spoken in Liberia (modeled on AmE) and thus made it distinct from other English speaking African countries (modeled on BrE)

    c) e it is the only African state where English is spoken as a mother tongue by 20% of the population

  • Liberia

    5% of Liberia's population are so-called Americo Liberian, who descended from American black expatriates

    those expatriates ruled and dominated the country

    [...] they carried with them American ways of life, including the language and the concept of racial differences. They also felt superior to their wild and uncivilized African brothers, and the leading group preserved this distance well into the 20th century [...]Grlach, M.: Studies in Varieties of English Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1991. p. 127

  • LiberiaThe love of liberty brought us here

    Good English in Liberia is geared to American phonology

    Different varieties of Liberian English can be distinguished:Standard LEVernacular LEKru Pidgin English

  • Liberian English basilectal sound sample

  • The Gambia: Common factsneighbouring country is Senegal (French!)area: 11,295 km2 population: app. 1,700,000capital: Banjulofficial language: Englishfurther languages: Fula, Mandinka, Wolof, Djola, Fulfulde

  • The Gambia: Historical overview1588 given as present to merchants by Elizabeth I1618 given as present to a company by James I17th century several European countries occupy the area1888 Senegambia becomes British Crown Colony 1965 The Gambia becomes independent from UK

  • The Gambia: Linguistic featuresCreole variety spoken in The Gambia is called Aku (related to Krio) linguistic influences of refugees from Senegal, Guinea and Sierra Leonefrequent code-switching between English and Gambian languagesWolof gains prestige because it is the language of economyit also serves as a lingua franca between French-speaking Senegal and The Gambia

  • Gambian president clip

  • Ghana: Common facts

    neighbouring countries are Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Togoarea: 238, 540 km2 population: app. 24,000,000capital: Accraofficial language: Englishfurther languages: Akan, Dagaare/Waale, Dangbe, Dagbane, Ewe, Ga, Gonja, Kasem, Nzema plus another 26 non-government sponsored languages

  • Ghana historical overviewMiddle Ages: early development of feudalism, subdivision in kingdoms1471 the Portuguese arrive and find the area rich in gold16th century slave trade as main economic factor1874 Gold Coast is made British Crown Colony19th century Asante wars, Britain remains victorious1957 Gold Coast is named Ghana and becomes independent1994 ethnic clashes between the Konkomba and the Nanumba due to quarrels over land

  • Ghana sociolinguistic aspects:lower levels: English as subjecthigher levels: English as a medium to teach30% English speakers, related to educationclear influence of Ghanaian mother tongues and Nigerian English

  • West Africa (Cameroon & Nigeria)

  • 1. Language History4 African language families:Afro-Asiatic (250 mio)Niger-Congo (260 mio)Nilo-Saharan (30 mio)Khoisan (considered as first languages of Africa)

  • 1.1 Nigerian (Pre-)colonial History until 1945 & the PidginPre-colonial History of the Area1472: Portuguese landed15th century: British arrival on the coast17th/18th century: slave tradeSlave trade slowly replaced by palm-oil trade1840s: missionaries arrive, teaching English mainlyPidgin-English developed as main means of communication

  • Colonial Nigeria 1861: British occupy Lagos, make it colonyMoves into hinterland & Niger-Delta1900: North & South Nigerian Protectorate1906: Colony of Lagos & South Nigeria were joined1914: Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria

  • Language Policyindirect policy of colonial rule pra