Language Planning and Sociocultural Change: Afaan Oromoo from Minoritization to Revitalization?

Author: Abebe Lemessa Saka (Haramaya University, Ethiopia)
Speaker: Abebe Lemessa Saka
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


This paper discusses the historical minoritization of Afaan Oromoo versus the current revitalization efforts and the resultant sociocultural change. It uncovers how Afaan Oromo was reduced to minority status over time and the efforts exerted to revitalize it. This paper largely employs critical discourse analysis (CDA). CDA focuses on critically examining how language forms social reality and affect and affected by ideology. This research specifically considers institutional, political, and media discourses. In critical discourse analysis data come from various sources in the form of talk and text through informal conversation and participant observation. Different linguistic domains and discursive events were attended to informally collect naturally occurring data. As such, though Afaan Oromoo is language of wider communication in Ethiopia, it was reduced to minority status at the turn of 19 th century. Ever since, using Afaan Oromoo in schools, churches, courts, for publication and communications was outlawed for a century until the downfall of the final autocratic regime in 1991. Improvements began to surface thence as the government paid a little heed to make a social reform but could not step beyond political consumption. Today, Afaan Oromoo faces challenges in education, scientific research, mass media, and administration. In this paper, all the predicaments and the trajectories Afaan Oromoo has gone through are critically analyzed and implications for policy makers are finally pointed out.

Keywords: minoritization, revitalization, language planning, sociocultural change, Afaan Oromoo, Ethiopia