Dr. Helene Fatima Idris[1]

This paper discusses language use, attitudes and identity among non-Arabic speaking communities in Sudan, based upon sociolinguistic surveys in Darfur and Khartoum. The first survey, that will be concluded in this paper, was conducted among speakers of the Tagoi language in Khartoum. This Kordofanian language, belonging to the Niger-Congo language phylum, is originally spoken in the eastern Nuba Mountains (Quint 2006:2). It was estimated to be spoken by about 13,000 people in 1982 (Lewis et al 2014). In March 2012 a sociolinguistic survey was conducted among 551 speakers of Tagoi in Omdurman and Khartoum. The survey was part of the Tagoi language documentation project, funded by the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme, SOAS, London, and carried out by the Department of Linguistics, University of Khartoum. This paper concludes that Tagoi is rarely spoken at home and that there is a lack of intergenerational transmission among the Tagoi respondents in Omdurman and Khartoum. The negative opinions of many of the respondents about the future vitality of the Tagoi  language  and the unstable security situation in the original homeland of the Tagoi people also point to a high level of endangerment of the language.

The second survey, accounted for in this paper, was conducted in 2013 among 150 Midob speakers in the original area of the language, i.e. the North Darfur state in western Sudan. Midob is a Nubian language, related to the other Darfur Nubian language, Birgid, and the Nile Nubian and Kordofan Nubian languages of the Nilo-Saharan language family (Thelwall 1983). It is estimated to be spoken by 50,000 people by Werner (1993) and Lewis et al (2014). There is a strong wish among the Midob people to maintain their language and create an orthography. The main aim of this sociolinguistic survey was to find out which of the two main dialects, Uurti and Kaargedi, the respondents would prefer to be the basis for the written language, but the survey also included questions on language use and attitudes.

This paper will present data of language use and attitudes from these two surveys. The data will be cross-referenced with demographic information about the respondents, such as gender, age, level of education, profession, place of birth, present place of residence and migration, in order to understand the relationship between language use and attitudes and these variables. The question of language and identity, based upon interviews with speakers, will also be discussed.