Language Choice and use in a Ruruuli-Lunyala Speaking Community: A Sociolinguistic Survey

Author: Saudah Namyalo (Makerere University)
Speaker: Saudah Namyalo
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


In this paper, Ruruuli-Lunyala (R/L) speakers’ linguistic preferences and usage are examined from a sociolinguistic perspective. In doing so, it looks into the variables that influence language choice and usage while also offering information about the level of individual and societal multilingualism in the districts of Nakasongola, Kiryandongo, Kayunga, and Buyende where Ruruuli-Lunyala is primarily spoken. In order to achieve the objectives of the study, a survey consisting of 531 Ruruuli-Lunyala speakers, covering different age ranges, gender, educational background, occupation, and residency was contacted. In addition to the survey, we used a Rapid Appraisal (RA) approach in which one group interview was carried out in each of the four districts surveyed. Each group comprised seven individuals making a total of twenty-eight (28). Twenty (20) of these were male and eight were female. Results indicate that R/L speakers are multilingual, speaking at least two or more languages. They speak R/L as their primary language, the most frequently, followed by Luganda, Runyoro, and Lusoga either as their second or third language. Similar to this, the R/L-speaking regions, specifically Nakasongola, Buyende, Kayunga, and Kiryandongo, are extremely multilingual, with up to 36 languages claimed to be spoken at the community level. Additionally, there are several factors that either act alone or in combination to influence the choices people make regarding the use of languages. According to the R/L-speaking community, these factors may be summarised into three categories; societal conventions, language policies that govern language use, and linguistic ideologies.

Keywords: Multilingualism, language choice, Ethnolinguistics, culture, language policy, identity