The Vitality of Kabiye in Togo

Komlan Essowe Essizewa


In Togo, speakers of Kabiye have been in contact with the speak¬ers of Ewe for several decades due to migration. As a result of this language contact, many members of the Kabiye speech community have become bilingual in Kabiye and Ewe. There have been a number of claims that Kabiye “est une langue en péril” (Aritiba 1993: 11). These claims have been based mainly on the observation of Kabiye speakers in Lomé and other major cities, where younger speakers seem to be losing their mother tongue to the benefit of Ewe. However, the extent of the loss of Kabiye is not well known because no extensive sociolinguistic study has been carried out among Kabiye speakers in these areas, and more specifically, in major Kabiye-speaking areas. The current study which has been carried out in Kara, the major Kabiye-speaking city and Awidina, a Kabiye village of the prefecture of Kara, fills the gap. The paper examines Kabiye speakers’ reports of patterns of language use in these areas of the Kabiye community.

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