The Same but Different: Language Use and Attitudes in Four Communities of Burkina Faso

Showalter, Stuart

Dr. Showalter examines language attitudes and bilingualism in four rural speech communities in Burkina Faso, West Africa. His study provides a detailed look into ways in which these communities respond to the everyday linguistic diversity of their milieu. Maps and diagrams add clarity in explaining the linguistic situation.

For his research, he adapted the matched-guise testing method in order to explore attitudes toward the language variation that permeates rural West African life. His results demonstrate the viability of indirect testing methods in this environment. They reveal, on the one hand, numerical measures of linguistic variability and bilingual achievement, and on the other hand, community attitudes toward shared ethnic identity, social contact, linguistic awareness, personal character, and social status. He fleshed out the survey data with ethnographic insights gained during the two years he spent in rural Burkina Faso carrying out his research.

Linguists and anthropologists interested in the interplay of language and society, as well as Africanists seeking a better understanding of the sometimes astounding linguistic diversity of the region, will find this book especially valuable.

Table of Contents:


  1. Introduction
  2. Sociolinguistic Issues in West Africa
  3. 2.1 Multilingualism
    2.2 The spread of lingua francas
    2.3 Dialect continua

  4. Language Issues in Burkina Faso
  5. 3.3 Introduction to the country
    3.4 Multilingualism
    3.5 Language policy
    3.6 The Kaan, Kpatogo, Dogo, and Khi

  6. Literature Review
  7. 4.1 Linguistic results of interethnic contact
    4.2 Social-psychological results of interethnic contact
    4.3 Language attitudes

  8. Research Methods
  9. 5.1 Sociolinguistic survey methodology
    5.2 Broad survey of the Kaan, Kpatogo, Dogo, and Khi
    5.3 Specific survey of the Kaan of Loropéni

  10. The Language Attitude Survey
  11. 6.1 The samples
    6.2 The evaluation procedures
    6.3 The results

  12. Language Proficiency and Use in the Kaan Community
  13. 7.1 Background and approach
    7.2 Language proficiency
    7.3 Language use in six domains

  14. Integration of the Research
  15. 8.1 Dialect and attitude issues
    8.2 Bilingualism and language use issues
    8.3 The communicative economy

  16. Summary and Conclusion
  17. 9.1 Summary of research results
    9.2 Conclusion

Appendix 1
Appendix 2
Appendix 3

Retail Price:
ix, 261 pages
ISBN 13:
ISBN 10:
6 × 9 × 0.57 in
0.9 lb
Burkina Faso
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