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E-ISSN : 2249 - 4642 | P-ISSN: 2454 - 4671
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THE ROLE OF LANGUAGE IN CONSTRUCTING NATIONAL IDENTITY IN THE CONTEMPORARY ETHIOPIA
Amanuel Raga Yadate, Eba Teresa Garoma
Volume: 5 Issue: 4 2015
This study tried to investigate to what degree language is used in marking national identities among the Ethiopian nations, and examine how the various nationalities perceive the relation between language and nationality. The sources of data for this study were 54 key informants who were selected from 27 representative linguistic groups using multi-phase purposive sampling technique. Accordingly, the data for the study were collected using thematically structured interviews which generally inquired about linguistic behaviors and nationalism, conviction about national identity and its salient features, and perceptions about language and national identity. Then, the data were analyzed in light of the social identity theory which asserts that ‘individuals strategically use language as a potent symbol of identity when testing or maintaining intergroup boundaries.’ As found out by this study, the majority of the nations considered in our investigation do not use language as the salient feature of their national identities because of its dynamic nature. However, they all consider that it is an important means through which their cultural and historical values transmit from generation to generation. Consequently, they use it in various modes or for various purposes. Therefore, the study concluded that in the contemporary Ethiopia, language is not the primary symbol of national identities; yet it is used in constructing them.
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