Language Use in the African Union Iau): A Sociolinguistic Study

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Addis Ababa University


This research is a sociolingui stic study of language use in the African Union (A U). It is divided into four chapters. In the first chapter, an attempt i3 made to briefly discuss the profile of African and fore ign languages in the Union. Here, it is shown that African languages have been at a great disadvantage from becoming the media of continental affairs while fore ign languages are enj oying their linguistic expansion. In the past, slave trade, colonial occupation, neo-colonial int'"rference and now globalization have all played against the d eve lop~1ent of African languages an-d cultures . Furthermore, deci sion makers considered the issue of language use in the AU as a 'soft issue'. Due to this fact there could exist language attitudinal probl ems (';:1 the African languages by governmental bodies. In order to create awareness among pol icy makers and language planners, this study attempts to survey the opinions of AU worker s, personnel of Afri can Embassies and African intellectuals. In chapter two, an attempt is made to observe the language use situation of the AU hi storicall y. Though the question of language use has become ce ntral after the establishment of OAU, it was not of course satisfactorily recognized and answered . Current ly, AU seems to be in a position to upgrade the status of African languages. To perform these activities, an institution called ACALAN was established and has been given the responsibility for the activation oft]'e process. In chapter three, data anal ysis and discussion are presented. The data is interpreted based on the attitudes of three groups of people: African Uni!"l offic iHls and workers, Embassy personnel of African countries in Addis Ababa and African intell ectuals. The interpretation of the data is based on the current situation of language use and suggests the potential working languages in the Union in the future. Finall y, the conclusion, the summary of maj or findin~s and recommendations are represented in chapter four.



LanguageUse, AfricanUnion