The language survey of Sudan : the first phase: a questionnaire survey in schools

Abstract: This is a report on a sociolinguistic survey of pupils in selected junior secondary schools and some primary schools in Northern Sudan, and in Malakal and Adong in Southern Sudan, conducted in 1972. This survey began the Language Survey of Sudan, which is a continuing project of the Institute of African and Asian Studies, Khartoum. The report describes in some detail how the survey was conducted. It adopted an approach intended to demonstrate the usefulness of sociolinguistic surveying to development and public policy in .Sudan and to bring out the needs for further, detailed work. The Language Survey of Sudan aims at describing and mapping knowledge and use of languages and dialects in Sudan, by (i) identifying languages and dialects and classifying them by linguistic method, (2) accounting for how many people know each language and dialect, and how well, and (3) studying for what purposes each language and dialect are used. This survey addressed primarily the last objective. As concerns the significance of findings, the characteristics of the respondents introduce severe constraints on interpretation. Although their ages are relatively uniform (around 14 or 15 years of age) with both sexes represented, born in the majority of cases in the same provinces as their schools are located in and showing a good spread of fathers' jobs, the respondents are not representative of the wider community. But the respondents are representative of the school population in Sudan in their age group. Results account for pupils' reports on parents' knowledge of Arabic and parents' literacy in Arabicj on pupils' own preferences for the use of classical or colloquial varieties of Arabic in the classroom; and on knowledge of other languages in addition to Arabic and patterns of use of these languages as well as Arabic. One major finding of this study is that, with very few exceptions, Arab respondents do not acquire another Sudanese language. Another major finding is that the data points to varying degrees of bilingualism among all other ethnic groups in at least Northern Sudan: Arabic and local vernaculars are used in complementary social situations, with AraMc assuming a lingua franca function and being associated mainly with national, public, official, 'modern' or often simply out-group communicative situations. But the report does not show that Arabic is replacing other languages. What it shows is acceptance of use of Arabic in many contexts. Another major finding is that girl respondents consistently say that they use more Arabic than boys say they do, and claim more Arabic knowledge and also literacy for their mothers than boys do.