Language Shift and Loss in the Multilingual Context of Africa

Document Type : Research Article


Belgorod State University, Belgorod, Russia


The article gives an insight into the phenomenon of language shift and death in Africa. It starts out with the discussion of the theoretical assumptions the work is based on. The sociolinguistic status of languages in the multilingual and multicultural context of Africa is also considered. The authors analyze the existing terms related to the problem of endangered languages, including ‘language shift’, ‘language loss’, ‘language death’ and ‘language decay’ as well as the UNESCO classification system used in the Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. Much attention is also given to the account of models of ‘gradual death’ and to the classification of the extralinguistic factors leading to language abandonment and decay. Some comments on the existing linguistic indicators of language decay and pidginization are given.