Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants

Title

The Languages of Maore: An Overview of Language Use in Mahoran Society and Preliminary Indications of Language Shift

Department

Modern Languages & Literatures Department

College

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities

Abstract

Through a relatively rapid process of unification with France, beginning in effect in 1974 and culminating in the attainment of its status as France Fifth Overseas Department in March 2011, Mayotte (Maore), the easternmost island in the Comoro archipelago, has undergone dramatic societal change, including, most notably, the increased use of the French language in many - although not all - domains. The spread of French has occurred at least to some extent at the expense of the island indigenous languages, principally Shimaore and Kibushi. In this paper, I present what is known about the historical use of language on Mayotte as well as the existing data, however scarce, on present-day language use. I address the question of language change, especially how the creation of French-medium institutions combined with the increase in the language status in many domains are exerting not-so-subtle pressures on the Mahorais people to shift to French. As preliminary evidence of this shift, I present the results of an investigation of French borrowing in Shimaore conducted in 2005.

Conference Name

Colloquium on African Languages and Linguistics (CALL)

Conference Location

Universiteit Leiden, Leiden, The Netherlands

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