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The Central African language cluster Ukhwejo: Geographic localization and linguistic identification

The project is funded bu The Swedish Research council.

Researcher: Christina Thornell

The aim of the project is to study the Bantu language varieties in the Central African Republic that Ethnologue, the most comprehensive database of the languages of the world, designates as Ukhwejo. These language varieties have recently been “discovered” and are as such nearly unknown in the academic world. The project clarifies the linguistic status of Ukhwejo and locates its varieties geographically. Although it has been assumed that these belong to one language, my working hypothesis is that they represent more than one language. It is probable that some dialects belong to the Mpiemo language, which I studied earlier in projects funded by The Swedish Research Council.

The linguistic identification is based on phonological, lexical and grammatical criteria according to established methods of dialectometry. Data are collected in the field with the aid of native speakers of the varieties concerned. The linguistic data are gathered by means of vocabulary lists, questionnaires and audio recordings, while the sociolinguistic data are gathered through interviews and participant observation.

The results will be published in a linguistic atlas, in articles and in data bases on the Internet. The varieties will also be presented through transcriptions of oral narratives and as sound files. The project is significant because it generates knowledge of unknown Bantu varieties, completing the linguistic atlas of the region. Hopefully, it will also contribute to methodological improvements in dialect studies. What is more, the language material of the previously unknown language varieties will be available for further research.

Page Manager: Annika Andersson|Last update: 10/14/2010

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