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Linguistic markets in Rwanda: Language use in advertisements and on signs

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Tove Rosendal
Publicerad i Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Volym 30
Nummer/häfte 1
Sidor 19-39
ISSN 0143-4632
Publiceringsår 2009
Publicerad vid Institutionen för språk och litteraturer
Sidor 19-39
Språk en
Ämnesord language policy, language planning, language use, language change, advertising, multilingualism
Ämneskategorier Övrig annan humaniora


Rwanda has experienced major changes during the last decade due to the genocide in 1994. After the civil war, in addition to establishing political and economical stability, peace and reconciliation, the government was faced with the return of refugees from neighbouring, mostly English-speaking, countries. The new socio-demographic conditions resulted in a change in the official language policy from Rwanda-French bilingualism to Rwanda-French-English trilingualism. During the post-genocide period, therefore, English has been introduced into official domains and has contributed towards a new linguistic situation in Rwanda. This paper investigates how these recent changes are reflected in newspaper advertisements (10 issues of state-owned Imvaho Nshya), 914 shop signs and 221 billboards in Kigali and Butare. The basic assumption of the analysis is that the languages in Rwanda are currently in a competitive position on the linguistic market, affecting not only the use of the national and official language, Rwanda, but also the position of the non-African official languages. This competition is an ongoing process, which will necessitate further studies from a macro-sociolinguistic perspective in order to establish the roles and usages of the three official languages of Rwanda

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