Mukasa Kiiza, the head of department of African Languages at Makerere School of Languages, Literature and Communication, says the affected languages and dialects include Ik which is spoken in Kaabong district in Karamoja and Lebthur spoken in Lango. Others include Lunyala, Lululi and Lusese dialects spoken in the central parts of Uganda.
Makerere University is embarking on a research to document endangered languages and dialects in the country.
Mukasa Kiiza, the head of department of African Languages at Makerere School of Languages, Literature and Communication, says the research proposal is aimed at documenting languages and dialects that have been described as endangered in the country.
He says documenting the endangered languages would help in protecting, preserving and keeping alive the language diversity in the country.
Mukasa says the affected languages and dialects include Ik which is spoken in Kaabong district in Karamoja and Lebthur spoken in Lango. Others include Lunyala, Lululi and Lusese dialects spoken in the central parts of Uganda.
Mukasa describes endangered languages as the ones that lack orthography and are not used in day today business and education.
// Cue in: “A language is measured …
Cue out: …72 years old.” //
Mukasa Kiiza says the only research on languages in the country was conducted in 1971 and 40 to 45 mother tongue languages and dialects were found being spoken in the country.
He estimates work to start at the end of this year.
Jane Olowo, another senior lecturer at the department of languages says the government policy of dropping the fourth principle subject at A-level is also likely to affect mother languages in situations where students have been studying a vernacular language like Luganda as a fourth principle.
She says Makerere University is partnering with the Endangered Languages Fund to carry out the research. The findings, according to Olowo, shall then be disseminated to the various stakeholders including government ministries and departments.
But Dr. Okaka Opio Dokotum, the chairperson Lango Language Board at Kyambogo University, says documenting local languages will determine whether endangered languages remain recognizable as a distinct cultural component of humanity or vanish into other existing languages.
He says the Education Policy Review Commission set up in 1987 recommended the establishment of a language policy in 1992, but it was more concerned with the question of one national language and saw the variety of Uganda’s local languages as more of a curse than a blessing.
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