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SIL Electronic Survey Reports 2012-042
Aguna Speakers of Benin: A Sociolinguistic Survey
Faton, Gabriele R.
A sociolinguistic survey was carried out in the Aguna language community of the Republic of Benin in June 2002, and the report was written in October 2006. The survey aimed to provide administrators of SIL Togo-Benin with information that would enable them to determine whether there is a need for SIL to engage in language development with the Aguna language community and the priority and strategy for such involvement.
Researchers conducted individual and community interviews to collect data about the geographical location of the Aguna language area; the relationship of Aguna to similar Gbe and neighboring language varieties; attitudes toward written and oral forms of Fon, Aja, Gen, Ewe and Ifè; attitudes toward Aguna language development; Aguna language vitality; and nonformal education. Local leaders provided information concerning nonformal education programs, religious trends and the Aguna people’s migration history.
Results of the survey indicate that the Aguna see themselves as a distinct ethnic group. No major dialect differences exist within Aguna. Aja, Ewe and Gen are well understood by the Aguna, and when an Aguna speaker communicates with a speaker of any of these languages, they speak their own languages. After Aguna, Fon is the language most often used by the Aguna. Aguna speakers have positive attitudes toward Aja, Ewe, Gen, Fon and Ifè. Their preferred languages for literacy are Aguna and Fon. Aguna is used in all domains where practical and permitted.
Given adequate comprehension of and positive attitudes towards Fon, as long as there is adequate institutional support for literacy in the region, it appears that there is currently no need for Aguna language development. It is recommended that continuing assessment be undertaken in order to examine the institutional support for nonformal education in the region and to evaluate the comprehension by Aguna speakers of materials written in Fon.
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