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Similarly in chapter six, Skattum traces the role of cultural and linguisticpluralism in Mali's national identity. Aptly characterizing Mali as the leastfrancophone country, the author sketches the country's multi-ethnic andmultilingual historical background and brings together the role of Bambara as adominant indigenous language and the function of the other thirteen nationallanguages in addition to Arabic and French in the media and educational sector.

Although Bambara does not have official status, French is used by speakers ofthe Songhay and Tamachek languages in instances of inter-ethnic communication asa way to avoid the use of Bambara.

Skattum's sociolinguistic landscape andinsightful discussion adds a great deal to our understanding of how languageattitudes are integral to the success of multilingualism in identity andnation-building. They theorize the origins of thisEnglish-based creole; investigate its growth, subsequent implications fornational language policy and the position of English as official language inrelation to the other sixteen Sierra Leonean languages. Similar to Wolof andBambara, Krio has not received official nationwide status despite its usefulnessfor maintaining inter-ethic relations.

Furthermore the authors address languagepolicy implications and offer interesting propositions for national languageplanning in the cultivation of national unity. In the next chapter, Anyidoho and Dakubu focus on the relationship betweenlanguage, ethnic identity and Ghanaian national identity. They examine languagepolicy and practice from the pre-colonial era to present day and its impact oneducation, media and local and national government. The authors provide anin-depth look at the relationship between language and identity by diverselanguage groups in Ghana and demonstrate the tensions between ethnic andnational identities.

They argue that the formal promotion of many Africanlanguages through the production of dictionaries, grammars and orthographies inconjunction with teaching materials, promote a higher status and solidify ethnicidentities. However they point out that the insertion of local Ghanaianlanguages into the dominant political landscape creates a sense of space tonegotiate political visibility and formulate new demands for justice andredistribution.

This chapter ends with suggestions for dealing with the tensionbetween national integration and democracy. In chapter nine, Knutsen delves into the historical, political andsociolinguistic motivations of French's dominant position in the Ivory Coast. Inparticular, the author investigates its role in the ethno-political tension andthe potential for unifying different ethnicities. Although she explains how theIvorian national identity has developed and gained consensus, officialmonolingualism continues to mask the reality of this bilingual population.

However, Knutsen concludes that ''language planning and integration of Ivorianlanguages will have to be a priority in order to assure genuine ethnicintegration'' of different ethno-linguistic groups p.


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Despite the symbolicrepresentation of national unity, readers will enjoy this succinctly writtenchapter. Their data consists of a series of language attitudesurveys and provides insights into language and national identity. The authorsprovide an overview of the Nigerian languages, highlighting not only the threemajor indigenous languages: Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo but the inherited languagehierarchies, ''ethnic rivalry and competition for political power and resources'' p.

Their assessment of the ethnic configuration, combined with economicfactors towards language, reveals intricate sociopolitical mechanisms wherebymultilingual language use provides a resource for economic development. As such,this chapter is an invaluable introduction to national language policy andplanning decisions in a complex ethnolinguistic country.

In chapter eleven, Biloa and Echu describe the dissonant yet dynamic existenceof French and English as co-official languages of Cameroon. The authors surveythe language situation, followed by an examination of multilingualism, nationalidentity and language policy.

Ethnolinguistics

Based on the lack of participation from indigenouslanguages in national identity, the authors consider the Anglophone quandaryderived from the polarization of uneven bilingualism. In short, they argue thatthe government's language policies have not stimulated a shared nationalidentity, but polarized and separated allegiances between the two majorAnglophone and Francophone group identities which is problematic for nationalintegration.

The paper ends with the implications of ethno-linguistic andnational and sub-national identity. In the volume's twelfth chapter, Bokamba addresses language and the resilienceof ''authentic nationalism'' in the Democratic Republic of the Congo DRC. Basedon his overview of socio-historical developments and linguistic practices, heexamines the pervasiveness of individual and societal multilingualismresponsible for characterizing Congolese nationalism. Using Fishman's definition of nationalism, Bokamba examines the role of political and languagepolicy practices combined with Congolese music and identify the salient forcescontributing to the shaping of a Congolese identity.

Despite the distinctivepresence of national languages such as Kikongo, Kiswahili, Lingala and Tshilubain certain domains, he convincingly shows that a monolingual portrayal ofnational identity is erroneous given this multilingual nation's strong nationalism. The search for a coherent national identity is the main focus of chapterthirteen.

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Githiora explore how Kenya's lingua franca, Swahili, remainedunrelated with the independence and post-independence nationalist movement. Theauthor provides an overview of the multilingual and multi-ethnic state andexplores the role minority and endangered languages play with regards tolanguage contact, shift, variation, endangerment and death.

Language and national identity in Africa

For Githiora,English remains the language of prestige given African language speakers ''deeplyentrenched psychic disbelief in African languages'' p. Nonetheless, thischapter is a valuable illustration of the key role that language plays incultivating and unifying a sense of national identity. Similarly, in chapter fourteen, Topan investigates the dynamics that broughtabout the acceptance of Swahili as national language amidst Tanzania'subiquitous multilingualism.

He draws on the commercial enterprise of trade, thepresence of colonial powers, missionary actions in the media and education andgovernment policies to elucidate the entrenchment of Swahili nationalism. Despite the presence of other indigenous languages, the author demonstrates howvigorous promotions resulted in the spread and consolidation of a singlelanguage as a symbol of national unity. Readers will find the inevitablecombination of historical and political factors that have forged and sustainednational identity insightful. In the next chapter, Appleyard and Orwin focus on the linguistic diversity ofEthiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia.

The authors investigate the varyingexperiences of colonialism, linguistic histories, cultural patterns andreligious adherence. Given that the history of the Horn of Africa is largelydominated by Ethiopia, the chapter follows suite. Although some readers might befrustrated by the lack of an outline with which to navigate through the chapterand subsequent conclusion, the authors provide a detailed examination of theconstruction of national identities. In the sixteenth chapter, Marten and Kula contextualize Zambia's historical andpresent-day language context and patterns of use.

Despite emphasis only placedon the value of African languages in the construction of identity during recentdecades, the authors describe the importance of language for national, politicaland ethnic identities.

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They particularly demonstrate the dynamics of specificpatterns of multilingualism built on a long historical tradition and related tothe formation of different linguistic identities. The work addressescontemporary themes in language and national identity, which readers will welcome.

In the volume's final chapter, Mesthrie employs a sociolinguistic perspective tocharacterize South Africa's thriving linguistic diversity. Subsequent to anhistorical synopsis, the author recounts key policies of separation and languagedebates.


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  8. Mesthrie examines the role that language can play in education,political and economic sectors, as a driving force of nationalism in thecountry's eleven-language policy, and grapples with the extent to which languagediversity is a problem or a resource. Drawing on Gramscian Gramsci, and'bottom-up' sociolinguistic perspectives, he shows how language has been andcontinues to be a subject of contestation.

    On the whole, this final paper is anengaging depiction of South Africa's pluralistic and multi-ethnic national unity. These impressive sixteenchapters, written by leading scholars, vary in style and coverage. However theyare unified by a sociolinguistic and ethnographic focus on politics and identityin pre-and post-colonial Africa. The papers are of exceptional quality and theirdepth of descriptions represents a copious body of knowledge that exemplifiesthe extent to which communities are dis interested in the elevation ofindigenous languages to the status of a national official language.

    Please feel welcome to email Elda Granata , our Linguistics editor, with comments, suggestions, or questions. All Rights Reserved.

    The Connection Between Language and Culture

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