A sociolinguistic survey of the Gbe language communities of Benin and Togo, Volume 8: Saxwe, Daxe and Se language areas

Statement of Responsibility:
Johnson, Eric C
This paper presents a sociolinguistic survey conducted in the Saxwe, Daxe, and Se 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 Saxwe, Daxe, and Se communities was conducted to assess whether and to what extent existing literature and literacy efforts in Fon and Gen could extend to the Saxwe, Daxe, and Se 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 Saxwe, Daxe, and/or Se. In addition, the following topics were investigated: language vitality and the relationship of Saxwe, Daxe, and Se 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 that, on average, the Saxwe people have only partial comprehension of both Fon and Gen. There are no indications of language shift and attitudes are positive among the Saxwe towards Saxwe language development, with a successful Saxwe literacy program already in place. The attitudes of Daxe speakers toward the Saxwe are positive as well. The Se identify with the Daxe but not with the Saxwe; they indicated that they would prefer Gen literacy and materials to those in Saxwe. (No comprehension testing was conducted among the Daxe and Se speech communities.) The results suggest (1) that the Saxwe literacy program currently in place in the Mono département is the best solution for the literacy needs in the Saxwe and Daxe speech communities and (2) that this program ideally be expanded to benefit those Saxwe villages in the Atlantique département. Comprehension testing among the Se is needed to confirm their self-evaluation of good Gen comprehension.
73 pages
Language surveys
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