Dr. Sawsan Abdel Aziz Mohammed Nashid[1]


This paper aims at providing a description of the sociolinguistic situation of South Sudan.  It focuses on the ethno-linguistic composition of the country. It attempts to answer these questions: what are the languages spoken in each one of the South Sudanese States and what are their functions? What are the demographic weights of their speakers; and what are the languages of wider communication?

The paper presents information on the ethnic groups and the languages spoken in each one of the three main areas of South Sudan (Greater Bahr el Ghazal, Greater Upper Nile, and Greater Equatoria). The status and functions of South Sudanese and immigrant languages in each one of the ten South Sudanese States will be described. Therefore, the situation of South Sudanese indigenous languages can be accounted for in addition to the sociolinguistic profile of South Sudan.

It starts with the distribution and classification of the languages of South Sudan within the general frame of the Greenberg (1970) classification of the African languages. Besides, the ethnolinguistic composition of each one of the South Sudanese States is also provided.

Qualitative method is the method adopted in the present study. Interviews and observation are the main tools of data collection. A number of interviews are administered to more than thirty people, males and females. Their ages ranged from seventeen to over eighty years. Their educational backgrounds varied from illiterate to university level. They belong to different ethnic backgrounds. As far as their professions are concerned, they are house wives, teachers, chiefs, farmers, administrative officers, government officials, traders and cattle keepers, in addition to the researcher's own observations based on her visits to Bahr el Ghazal and Equatoria areas.

[1]Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, University of Khartoum