L'afar parlé en Erythrée

Abstract : In Eritrea, 'Afar is the language of 160,000 people native-speakers, and it is taught in some primary schools. Afar belongs to the Lowland East Cushitic, and it is spoken beyond the borders of Eritrea: in the Republic of Djibouti to the South, and in Ethiopia, to the West. In Eritrea, the Afar speakers are in contact with another Cushitic language close to Afar, Saaho, and with Semitic languages Its linguistic unit is usually divided into two dialectal groups, Northern and Southern. Presently, this distribution may be reconsidered in the light of transformations which have taken place in Eritrea in the second half of the 20th century. The linguistic situation today is different from that described by the researchers when they first established the dialectal dichotomy in Afar. Many historical perturbations, such as colonisation, famines and the 30 years war for Liberation, the longest one on the African continent, have clearly had linguistic consequences. Another factor of change and evolution is the linguistic policy of the E.P.L.F., and later that of the State of Eritrea, and especially the program for elimination of iliteracy and the schooling in the mother tongues which were based on the writing of an oral language and the fixing of the grammar. The recent publications about Afar did not take into account Afar spoken in Eritrea, for the reason that Eritrea had not been accessible to linguistic fieldwork for 30 years because of the war for Independance. Therefore, all the published data concerning Eritrean Afar were collected either in Eritrea - but only by the end of the fifties - or with Eritrean Afar speakers living out of their country, therefore far from their natural linguistic environment. The aim of this paper is to present the characteristics of Afar spoken in Eritrea, based on a corpus recorded during my fieldwork in 1996 in the South Red Sea Province (formerly Dankaliya Province), within the region extended from Massawa till Rahayta. Therefore the data were collected both in the North and South of Baylul. After a sociolinguistic presentation of Afar language in Eritrea, I shall give the main features that caracterize the Afar spoken in Eritrea, and specify its dialectology. The aim of this study is not only to enlarge our knowledge of Afar, but also to provide linguistic materials that may be useful for the teaching of this language.
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Marie-Claude Simeone-Senelle. L'afar parlé en Erythrée. 2000. ⟨halshs-00650936⟩

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