While a great deal of scholarship has dealt with language contact phenomena involving an African language and an Indo-European language, Backus's (1992:19) observation of more than a decade ago that very little research has been done investigating contact between local African languages continues to hold. This is unfortunate because contact between African languages tends to be much more intense and intimate, functioning to signal solidarity among the speakers, in a somewhat different way from contact between African languages and European languages. This paper examines contact between two languages of distinct branches of Niger-Congo, namely Kabiye and Ewe. Today, many Kabiye speakers increasingly use Ewe, or Kabiye-Ewe code-switching especially in urban areas. This sociolinguistic analysis seeks to determine the social and linguistic factors (e.g., prestige, pressure, wider communication) that constrain language usage in the Kabiye community I argue that the speakers' switching from Kabiye to Ewe in everyday communication reflects the historical and present socioeconomic status of Ewe in the "market place" (Calvet 1992), not only in Togo, but in neighboring countries as well.
Selected Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference on African Linguistics
edited by Doris L. Payne and Jaime Peña
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