The Changing Roles of English in Eastern Africa

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Abstract

Although Africa is the most linguistically diverse continent, European languages have always played a vital role in its modern history, especially in the fields of education and administration. The Changing Roles of English in Eastern Africa looks at the role of English in nine East African countries and investigates how attitudes toward the language have shaped its changing roles. While the nine countries included in this collection have diverse linguistic histories, they all have, for one reason or another, given English some significant role in their everyday operations. Some of these countries, such as Kenya and Uganda, were former British colonies and, therefore, their use of English was inevitable in the post-colonial era. In a few other countries, however, the decision to use the language has been made necessary by its ever increasing importance as an international language. How did English come to hold such power in these East African countries? Is English still the key to economic opportunities, and how do the various East African countries view English? Can English be avoided, especially in contexts where it was never imposed by colonial rule? What is attracting countries such as Burundi and Rwanda to English, and what are some of the challenges those countries are facing as they transition from use of French as a medium of education to English? This book will be of value to anyone interested in understanding the diverse roles of English, especially those people involved in the politics of language, language planning, language policy, education and linguistics.