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A Sociolinguistic Assessment of Language Shift in Hyam

Ndaks Kingsley Fumen, Hannatu Kwasau
Published: 30 December 2022

Abstract: This paper dubbed “A Sociolinguistic Assessment of language shift among Hyam speakers” examines the sociolinguistic concepts of language shift and its resultant effect of language death or extinction. This is against the backdrop that like many other minority languages, the Hyam language is still in competition with other more sophisticated and standard linguistic codes. To achieve this aim, a total of two hundred (200) structured questionnaires are administered to both the home and the Diaspora populations respectively. findings reveal that even though people speak the language with their children and still have native-like competence, a greater number of them still speak or prefer other language varieties. They equally do not use the language with their friends or non-native speakers because it is not mutually intelligible. Nevertheless, the degree of solidarity and loyalty for the Hyam language are still very high regardless. It is however disturbing to say that the language is not standardized, literatures are very much lacking in the language, making teaching and learning in it somewhat challenging; and it is still incapable of performing modern functions typical of a metropolitan variety. It is on this light that this research is quick to state, and also by way of recommendation, that if something is not done soon and fast particularly in the area of instruction, documentation and standardization, the shift though gradual for now, may become irreversible and language death may therefore become inevitable.
Keywords: Sociolinguistics / Linguistic domination / Dialect / Nativity / Multilingualism

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