Standardization of Oromo: Orthographic and Lexical Perspectives

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This study describes the orthographic and lexical standardization of Oromo. Qualitative research design was employed to describe the orthographic and lexical standardization of Oromo. Both primary and secondary sources of data were used. Focus group discussions and an interview were the primary sources of data; whereas the documents compiled by the standardization committee of Oromo and the primary and secondary school textbooks were the secondary sources of data. Even though there are a number of scholars who argue for and against the use of Roman based script, this study argues that Roman based script (Qubee) should be continued to write Oromo as a result of the linguistic, practical, acceptance and from the country's language policy point of views. Despite its occurrence in the various texts of Oromo, and its inclusion as an independent phoneme in the phonemic inventory of the language, the grapheme for the glottal stop is still not devised. Hence, this study, strongly recommends that it has to be represented with grapheme. Since the main reason for opting Roman based script is to mark the geminated realization of grapheme, this study argues that the sounds represented by the digraphs have to be marked when geminated. Though it requires experimental investigation, the graphamatic representation of the ejectives <x> [t’], <q> [k’], <c> [tʃ’] and <ph> [p’] may affect the maximum transfer of skills and may have a negative impact on the transfer of reading skills in English and Oromo as the graphemes with which these phonemes are represented are not the same in both languages. This pedagogical and transfer of reading skill challenges can be resolved via replacing the existing graphemes <x>, <q>, <c> and <ph> by <t’>, <k’>, <c’> and <p’> respectively. The geminated realization can better be marked via doubling ony the first letter to be economical. The current alphabetic alignment of characters of the language is not systematic, particularly with regard to the order of digraphs in the alphabet. Hence, the study suggests the revisiting of the alphabetic order of the language.The finding also revealed that there are variations when writing Oromo ordinals, compounds, abbreviations, lexical and other word spacing related problems are the challenges of the standardization process of the language. The study believes that variation is due to the lack of codification and coordination among the stakeholders. Concerning the lexical elaboration strategy, both internal and external meanes are extensively applied in both the documents of the standardization committee of Oromo and in the textbooks to enrich the language. Semantic extension, derivation, compounding, blending, abbreviations, borrowing and loan translation are among the means which are used to elaborate i the language. Abbreviation and semantic extension are less productive in documents of the standardization committee of Oromo than in the textbooks. Semantic extension and borrowing and are more extensively used in the textbooks than in the documents of SCO. Meaning extension, derivation, compounding, blending, borrowing and loan translation are the most productive means of lexical elaboration in Oromo. All loanwords in Oromo are subject to modification. Regarding source language preferences, English is the main source of loanwords of Oromo as English is well developed to express scientific and technological concepts followed by Amharic, Arabic, Italian, Swahili and French. Greek loanwords are almost none in Oromo



orthographic and lexical standardization of Oromo. Both primary and secondary sources of data were used