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Title: Assessing the impact of French on the language varieties of Gabon
Author: Boussougou, Sosthene
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 1566
Awarding Body: Liverpool John Moores University
Current Institution: Liverpool John Moores University
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines the impact of French on the language varieties of Gabon. Today, only a few Gabonese are still able to speak Gabonese languages without borrowing French lexis, and a great number of schoolchildren and students neither learn nor use them at home (82.5%). This study explores the case of Gabonese languages from colonial to post-colonial era, showing the extent to which cultural, social, economic, and political factors have contributed to their decline, and how Gabonese people's lifestyle has changed. This study is based on questionnaire data drawn from 2400 respondents, currently in full time education, 10 interviews with specialists of each area covered by the theoretical framework, three case studies focusing on primary, secondary, and higher education, including 30 families as part of participant observation. Note-taking was used to record 30 hours of spontaneous conversations in Gabonese families' homes. Data were analysed in terms of language choice patterns and language switching. Past studies on language decline have been drawn from a number of different perspectives. These approaches are relevant to this study, and this thesis employs each of them as far as is possible with the available data. Moreover, this study makes the following main findings: 1) the indigenous languages of Gabon are in danger of being lost within a generation or two. There has been a rapid shift from local languages to French from primary to higher education, and the gap between the young and the older generations is continuously widening. The findings reveal that this linguistic situation has been brought on by many years of colonisation by France, and most recently by massive waves of globalisation (Conklin, 1997); 2) Gabonese people are not assimilated to French culture contrary to popular belief; 3) the project of a national language is feasible. Based on 6 explanatory factors that are grounded on qualitative data, the theory of languages suggests that French and local languages can co-exist. In short, respondents seek social status or success through education (64.4%) or material possessions (20.6%), increasing, therefore, the potential for social progress. Thus, it is through these processes that the theory of languages creates a non-threatening environment and re-establishes equilibrium in the multi-lingual system of Gabon.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available