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The Effects of Globalization Processes on the Vitality of Languages in West African Cities

The Effects of Globalization Processes on the Vitality of Languages in West African Cities


Staff: Prof. Dr. Gudrun Miehe,Prof. Dr. Jonathan Owens PhD 

Duration: 2000 – 2006

Financing: German Research Council (DFG)


The aim of the project is to study the effects of globalisation processes on linguistic behaviour and their concomitant effects on linguistic structures in African urban areas. The basic assumption is that globalisation makes itself felt most directly in urban areas. This leads to a more pronounced hierarchy among languages, rather than leading to linguistic homogeneisation. This hierarchy results from the various stages within the interaction between local and global forces. In this respect, we distinguish between direct and indirect globalisation processes. Starting from linguistic vitality theory, the intended research will focus on language use, language structure as well as the correlation between linguistic variables and general social variables. The two regions selected for the project (Maiduguri in Northeastern Nigeria and Banfora/Bobo Dioulasso in Burkina Faso) show several differences, with respect to their socio-cultural background as well as their colonial history. We assume that comparison of the respective data will enhance the predictive value of the research results and allow for general conclusions concerning linguistic developments typical for African urban areas.


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