A sociolinguistic survey of the Gbe language communities of Benin and Togo, Volume 3: Kotafon language area

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Hatfield, Deborah H., Bonnie J. Henson and Michael M. McHenry
This paper presents a sociolinguistic survey conducted in the Kotafon 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 Kotafon communities was conducted to assess whether and to what extent existing literature and literacy efforts in Fon and Gen could extend to the Kotafon 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 and Gen. Results are given on language attitudes toward both written and oral forms of Fon and Gen and toward the development of Kotafon. In addition, the following topics were investigated: language vitality and the relationship of Kotafon 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 test results show, at least preliminarily, that the Kotafon have high a level of comprehension of both Fon and Gen. Attitudes toward Gen appear to be slightly more positive than those toward Fon. The survey findings suggest that Gen and possibly Fon literacy is a workable solution for literacy needs in the Kotafon speech communities provided there is adequate institutional support. Regarding Kotafon language vitality, the data indicate that Kotafon is in use in all village domains.
36 pages
Language surveys
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