A sociolinguistic survey of the Gbe language communities of Benin and Togo, Volume 2: Ayizo language area

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Hatfield, Deborah H. and Michael M. McHenry
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SIL International
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Dallas, Texas
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SIL Electronic Survey Reports 2011-014
31 pages
This paper presents a sociolinguistic survey conducted in the Ayizo language communities (Kwa language family) of Benin. The Gbe languages continuum is situated in the southeastern part of West Africa. Expanding westwards from southwestern Nigeria, the Gbe communities occupy large areas in southern Benin, Togo, and southeastern Ghana. To date in Benin, as far as Gbe varieties are concerned, Aja, Fon, Gen, and Gun have undergone language development on a larger scale. A survey of the Ayizo communities was conducted to assess whether and to what extent existing literature and literacy efforts in Fon could extend to the Ayizo communities and to determine the nature and extent of SIL’s possible involvement among these communities. After a general overview of the taxonomic and geographic language situation, test results are reported. Survey interview and group test results are presented on comprehension of Fon. Results are given on language attitudes toward both written and oral forms of Fon and toward the development of Ayizo. In addition, the following topics were investigated: language vitality and the relationship of Ayizo to related Gbe varieties in terms of comprehension and language attitudes. Also, information by local leaders on the literacy and religious situations and on migration history is given. The group comprehension test results show, at least preliminarily, that the Ayizo have good comprehension of Fon and overt attitudes toward Fon are positive. Though the preference everywhere is for literacy in Ayizo, Fon literacy appears to be a workable solution for literacy needs in the Ayizo speech communities provided there is adequate institutional support. Regarding Ayizo language vitality, the data suggest that Ayizo is in widespread use in most domains.
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Language surveys
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