The Dynamics of Sango Language Spread

Karan, Mark E

Language spread, or expansion into new geographic and language-use areas, has been studied largely through observation. Thus, discussions of the dynamics of language spread have been based primarily on data obtained through observation.

Mark Karan employs a memory span test to evaluate the competence of a large number of subjects in a spreading language, Sango of the Central African Republic. The data from this test are the basis of the author's statistical studies of the social determinants and predictors of competence in the spreading language.

The results indicate the overriding importance of individual motivations for understanding the dynamics of the process of language spread. Based on his findings, Karan presents a framework for discussion, research, and intervention in language spread, along with guidelines for more successful intervention in shift situations.

Numerous researchers have linked language spread and language change--language internal modification over time. This quantitative study provides substantive comparison of the two phenomena with data on the distribution of social factors such as age, sex, and education. These distributions are very similar to the distributions of social factors in language change, indicating that language spread and language change are similar processes.

About the author

Mark Karan earned a Ph.D. degree at University of Pennsylvania in Linguistics in 1996. He did fieldwork in Togo, Benin and Central African Republic. He has served Associate Director of Togo-Benin SIL (1984–1987), Associate Director Central African Republic Academics/Language Programs (1990–2001), and as professor and director of University of North Dakota SIL (1998–2003). Dr Karan is currently the Training Division Director, Academic Affairs, SIL International 2002– .

Table of Contents:

List of Tables and Figures

  1. Introduction
  2. Background
  3. 2.1 Political history of Sango
    2.2 Literature concerning the use and spread of Sango
    2.3 Language spread

  4. Quantitative Approach Orientation
  5. Sentence Repetition Tests (SRTs)
  6. The Development of the Sango SRT
  7. 5.1 Two-value scoring systems
    5.2 Choosing the final fifteen sentences
    5.3 Difficulty levels as a criterion of choice
    5.4 SRT final form--RPE correlation
    5.5 Conclusions concerning modifications of SRT procedures
    5.6 Data gathering and coding

  8. The Treatment of SRT Data: Social Factors Analysis of Variance (ANOVA)
  9. 6.1 Regression analysis

  10. The Treatment of SRT Data: The Effect of Language
  11. 7.1 Differences on Bilingualism
    7.2 Genetic differences and bilingualism
    7.3 Geographic distance and bilingualism

  12. Participant Observation and Census Data
  13. 8.1 Participant observation--gender
    8.2 Participant observation--schools
    8.3 Participant observation--attitudes toward languages
    8.4 Census data--distribution of Sango speakers

  14. Observations and Conclusions
  15. 9.1 The spread of Sango
    9.2 The character of language shift: individual based
    9.3 Distribution of social correlates
    9.4 Language similarities and language shift
    9.5 Motivations of language shift
    9.6 Language loyalty
    9.7 The SRT
    9.8 Summary

  16. Contributions to the Theory of Language Shift, Language
  17. 10.1 Change, and Implications for Language Planners
    10.2 Inevitability of the continuation of language spread
    10.3 Linguistic diversity, economics, and age of countries
    10.4 Governmental and institutional considerations
    10.5 Language planning through personal motivation modification
    10.6 Ways to encourage the spread of a language
    10.7 Ways to discourage the use of a language
    10.8 Implications concerning language loyalty
    10.9 Recommendations for literacy work
    10.10 Implications concerning language change
    10.11 Conclusions

Appendix 1: Interlinear Texts

Appendix 2: RPE Proficiency Evaluations Wording

  1. Descriptions pour l'évaluation des compétences dans le domaine de l'accent
  2. Descriptions pour l'évaluation des compétences dans le domaine de la grammaire
  3. Descriptions pour l'évaluation des compétences dans le domaine de facilité d'élocution
  4. Descriptions pour l'évaluation des compétences dans le domaine de vocabulaire
  5. Descriptions pour l'évaluation des compétences dans le domaine de comprehension
  6. Appendix 3: Second Language Proficiency Levels Descriptions
  7. Appendix 4: Individual Subject SRT Scoring Sheet
  8. Teste de Bilinguisme en Sango - SRT


Retail Price:
ix, 151 pages
Language use
ISBN 13:
ISBN 10:
6 × 9 × 0.35 in
0.6 lb
Central African Republic
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