Citation: Ahmed, I. (2024). Hausa’s Ascent in Public Domains and the Fate of Kataf Cluster Languages. Tasambo Journal of Language, Literature, and Culture, 3(1), 1-14. www.doi.org/10.36349/tjllc.2024.v03i01.001.

Hausa’s Ascent in Public Domains and the Fate of Kataf Cluster Languages 

By

Ibrahim Ahmed (PhD)
Department of Nigerian Languages and Linguistics
Kaduna State University, Kaduna
Telephone: 08027942218 (Calls & WhatsApp)
Email: ibrahimahmedbg@gmail.com 

Abstract

This study investigated language use in public domains among communities speaking Kataf cluster languages, focusing on the emerging trend of increased use of Hausa and the implications. Guided by theories on language endangerment and multilingualism, the quantitative research design was adopted to investigate the phenomenon. A sub-section of a structured questionnaire (complemented by open-ended interviews) was used as instrument(s) to generate the required data. The native speakers of the cluster’s member languages were the research population. In keeping with the scientific research procedure, purposive random sampling was used as the technique to select five hundred persons as the research informants, as it was not possible to reach all the persons that constituted the research population. The sample comprised fifty persons from each of the ten ethnolinguistic groups covered by the research (i.e. 50 persons x 10 groups = 500 informants). The desire to select more enlightened persons who could read in-between the lines, i.e. persons who knew the way language use practices should ideally be and understood how such practices appeared among the focused communities, was the rationale for employing the chosen sampling technique. Thus, the sample comprised educated males and females between the ages of 18 and 45 years, mostly civil servants (teachers, administrators, etc.) that possessed the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) or equivalents as minimum educational qualification. Descriptive statistics in the form of frequency and percentage distributions were employed as the mode of data analysis. The data analyzed in tables (1) to (5) not only revealed a gradual decline in the use of Kataf cluster languages in public settings in favour of Hausa but also provided strong evidence for the endangerment of the affected languages, highlighting potential consequences for cultural identity, community cohesion, and wider linguistic diversity.

1.1 Introduction

In the face of the growing dominance of Hausa in Southern Kaduna, one of the major political constituents of Kaduna State in the northwestern sub-region of Nigeria and home to about sixty ethnolinguistic groups, the fate of Kataf cluster languages is uncertain. Against this backdrop, this research investigated the language usage landscape and trend among communities to which the member languages of Kataf cluster are native tongues, examining Hausa’s ascent in public domains and the implications.

For established linguistic reasons, the languages that are native to the ethnolinguistic groups that constitute Southern Kaduna have been sub-categorized into four (4) distinct language clusters, one of which is the Kataf cluster languages. The cluster comprises ten phyla-genetically related languages belonging to the Plateau 2 sub-branch of the Benue-Congo sub-family of the larger Niger-Congo phylum of African languages. The languages are Tyap, Jju, Gworok, Sholio, Takad, Tyacherak, Fantsuan, Ninkyop, Bakulu, and Anghan all of which presently appear symptomatic of language endangerment. The names of the languages have hausanized variants due to age-long contact with Hausa. Hence, the alternates Tyap ~ Kataf, Jju ~ Kaje, Gworok ~ Kagoro, Sholio ~ Marwa, Takad ~ Attakar, Tyacherak ~ Kacaccere, Fantsuan ~ Kafanchan, Ninkyop ~ Kaninkon, Bakulu ~ Ikulu, and Anghan ~ Kamantan with the second elements in the pairs as the hausanized names (Greenberg, 1970, pp. 8 & 9; James, 1997, p. 80; cf. Ahmed & Mijinyawa, 2020, 2021, & 2022).

Ahmed & Mijinyawa (2020, 2021, & 2022) discovered, among other revelations, that:

(a) The native speaker communities of Kataf cluster languages were generally apathetic in speaking the languages, most especially in public domains.

(b) Nearly all of the languages in the cluster were undocumented and, therefore, hardly served any official purposes.

(c) Most proficient or fluent speakers of the member languages did not traverse all age-grades, an indication that the languages’ intergenerational transmissions were being disrupted.

Beyond the aforementioned facts, other sorts of unsubstantiated allegations have continued to trend, and are trending, as the possible reasons for the endangerment of not only the Kataf cluster languages but also the generality of Southern Kaduna languages. Irrespective of the amount of these allegations, the shift to or ascent of Hausa in the public domain appeared to be, and remains, the most pronounced. In the context of the present research and, indeed, in the language endangerment (and vitality) enterprise, places outside of the home (or private) domain where language is the life wire for communication are the public domains, for example, chiefs’ palaces, places of meetings/worships, event/ceremony centres, schools/offices/markets/hospitals/motor parks, etc. The trending allegation or speculation of the shift to Hausa by the speaker communities of Kataf cluster languages is, thus, the motivation behind the conduct of the research to which this paper is an outgrowth.

1.2 Research Objective

This research was set out to ascertain the alleged shift to Hausa in the public domains among native speakers of Kataf cluster languages and the implications.

1.3 Research Question

Consistent with the above objective, this research was set out to address the question ‘Do native speakers of Kataf cluster languages shift to Hausa in the public domains, and what are the implications?’

2.0 Literature Review and Conceptual/Theoretical Framework

2.1 Language Shift

Language shift as a linguistic phenomenon arises out of language contact, which in turn arises from multilingualism. Multilingualism provides an environment for language contact, thus referring to the presence and use of many languages in a given community, or the linguistic behaviour of the members of a speech community using two, three, or more languages, depending on the situation and function. Such a linguistic scenario is societal multilingualism. Migration, imperialism, federation, and border (i.e. boundary) sharing are some of the principal causes of multilingualism (Fasold, 1984; Kachru, 1986; Simwinga, 2009; Farisiyah & Zamzani, 2018). Social proximity of a speech community to another group speaking another language, military occupation, a superimposed religious medium, and institutional support for a foreign language as well as political affiliation, immigration, and economic activities are some of the factors responsible for language contact (Loveday, 1996 in Simwinga, 2009, p. 2). One of the observable outcomes of language contact situations in Africa is the fact that smaller or minority languages are being swallowed by bigger (i.e. major) or official languages through language shift (Simwinga, 2009). This seems to be the unfortunate situation of Kataf cluster languages as there are glaring indications that a bigger language, with which they have been in contact for ages, is gradually consuming them, as this paper ascertains.

Language shift is, by definition, the extended use of a new language that results in the replacement of a former primary language with a new primary language. In other words, it is a phenomenon whereby members of a speech community mortgage their ancestral language in favour of that of an adjacent speech community. In other words, it is a situation where patterns of language use by members of a given speech community shift from the use of their native language to using a supposedly new language (Fasold, 1984; Brenzinger, 1992; Simwinga, 2009). Language shift may be partial or complete. It is partial when, for example, the primary (i.e. native) language continues to be hegemonic, especially in the private (or home) domain. It is however complete, as Simwinga (2009, p. 2) pointed out, when native speakers of a given language shift over various generations to another language in all functional domains, resulting in the death of the native (i.e. the abandoned) language. It means, therefore, that language death is the ultimate consequence of language shift. Grimes (2013) cited in Sarvi (2016, p. 41) stated that (any or all of) the under-listed factors could cause language shift:

(a)   Pushing of children to learn prestige language by parents

(b)  Natural or man-made disaster i.e. sudden shift e.g. because of war, flood, earthquake

(c)   Migration outside of traditional territory i.e. planned shift

(d)  Use of a second language in school

(e)   National language policy

(f)    Urbanization, industrialization, etc.

(g)  Inferiority complex (Nawaz, Umer, Anjum, & Ramzan, 2012)

(h)  Speakers’ attitude [i.e. apathy, inferiority complex, etc.] towards their native tongue (Nawaz et al., 2012)

Language death occurs in unstable bilingual or multilingual speech communities as a result of language shift from regressive minority language [e.g. the Kataf cluster languages in the present case] to dominant majority language [e.g. Hausa in the present case] (Nawaz et al., 2012). Crystal (2000) in (Nawaz et al., 2012) argues that a language is said to be dead when no one speaks it any more, though it may continue to exist in recorded forms i.e. traditionally in writing and more recently in sound or video archive, however, unless it has fluent speakers it would not be seen as a living language.

2.2 Language Endangerment

Language endangerment has been in existence since antiquity (Lewis, Simons, & Fennig, 2015, p. 1). As a sociolinguistic phenomenon, it entails a situation where native speakers of a language cease to use it, use it in fewer domains, and use fewer of its registers and speaking styles, or stop passing it on to the next generation (Usman, 2013, p. 52). When a language can no longer survive or strive in society due to alterations in socio-economic, political, technological, cultural, and religious ecologies, the scenario is language endangerment and the affected language is an endangered language (Krauss, 1992).

There are approximately 6000 languages in the world, of which 10% are ranked safe, another 10% are ranked vulnerable, 11% are ranked definitively endangered, 57% are ranked severely endangered, 9% are ranked critically endangered, and 4% are ranked extinct or dead. Of the estimated 6000 world languages, 2132 are said to be on the African continent. 15.8% of the languages of Africa have been rated as relatively safe (from endangerment), 60.4% as moderately endangered, 14.4% as severely endangered, and 9.4% as extinct or nearly extinct (UNESCO, 2003). In the case of Nigeria, based on Crozier & Blench’s (1992) benchmark that places a language having up to 5000 [native] speakers as a safe language, Ugwoke (1999) cited in Sarvi (2016, pp. 26 – 28) assessed languages in some Nigerian states and discovered that no fewer than 152 languages were facing the danger of going extinct. Such a finding confirms and affirms that Nigeria is a hotspot of language endangerment and endangered languages on the global and Africa’s maps. Sarvi (2016, pp. 27 & 28), drawing from insights in Ugwoke (1999), Blench (2011), and Haruna (2014), listed Mada, Nungu/Rindre, Duya, Gbagyi, Numana, Nunku, Gbantu, Numbu, Nyankpa, Toro, and Yeskwa as (some of the) endangered languages to be found in Kaduna State, as per Ugwoke’s safe status benchmark for languages (cf. Ahmed & Mijinyawa, 2020, 2021, & 2022).

Language endangerment occurs because of external and internal forces. The external forces can be in the form of military, economic, religious, cultural, or educational subjugation. On the other hand, the internal forces often originate from the external ones. Consequently, both forces tend to halt the intergenerational transmission of linguistic and cultural traditions (UNESCO, 2003). Grimes (2013) cited in Sarvi (2016, p. 4) accused language shift as a principal cause of language endangerment. Bello (2013, pp. 35 – 48) perceived language endangerment as a phenomenon that any (or all) of the under-listed factors can trigger and propel:

(a)   Geographic and geo-demographic factors

(b)  Social factors

(c)   Size of language speakers

(d)  Amount and quality of documentation [of language(s)]

(e)   Domains of language use

(f)    Historical factors

(g)  Political factors

(h)  Attitude of speakers [or psychological factors (Nawaz et al., 2012)]

(i)     Sociolinguistic factors

(j)     Socio-economic factors

(k)  Intergenerational language transmission

(l)     Globalization/modernization/urbanization

The present paper is guided by the following theoretical assumptions:

(a)   Languages whose native speakers use them in an increasingly reduced number of communicative domains automatically become endangered (UNESCO, 2003).

(b)  In language contact situations where international language and local one are both accorded official status, a local language would tend to shift to, or be replaced by, the official local language rather than by the international language (Bhola, 1990; Van Dyken, 1990; Brenzinger et al., 1991; Brenzinger, 2001; Simwinga, 2009).

It should be reiterated at this point that, the ‘Last-Bus-Stop’ for language endangerment is language death, extinction, or disappearance, which in turn is the ultimate consequence of long-term accumulation and effects of the multifaceted factors – language shift inclusive – that trigger and propel language endangerment.

3.0 Research Methodology

A quantitative research design was employed to investigate the language shift phenomenon. Communities speaking Kataf cluster languages were the population for this research. The exact or estimated population size could not be sourced by the research from any authoritative or credible database, e.g. the Nigerian National Population Commission’s (NPC) database. However, the numerical size of the native speakers of all of the languages might run into hundreds of thousands. In keeping with the scientific research procedure, purposive random sampling was used as the technique to select five hundred persons as the research sample, as it was not possible to reach all the persons that constituted the research population. The sample comprised fifty persons from each of the ten ethnolinguistic groups covered by the research (i.e. 50 persons x 10 groups = 500 informants). The desire to select more enlightened persons who could read in-between the lines, i.e. persons who knew the way language use practices should ideally be and understood how such practices appeared among the focused communities at the time of conducting this research, was the rationale for employing the chosen sampling technique. Thus, the sample comprised educated males and females between the ages of 18 and 45 years, mostly civil servants (teachers, administrators, etc.) that possessed the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) or equivalents as minimum educational qualification. A sub-section of a structured questionnaire (complemented by open-ended interviews) was used as instrument(s) to generate the required data. The relevant sub-component of the questionnaire comprised five questions that sought respondents’ perception of the language used most among the focused communities in public domains, i.e. chiefs’ palaces, meetings, places of worship, schools/offices/markets/motor parks, and ceremonies. Descriptive statistics in the form of frequency and percentage distributions were employed as the mode of data analysis. However, due to informants’ apathy in handling and responding to questionnaires, the fifty copies (of a questionnaire) distributed to each of the ten ethnolinguistic groups could not (in all cases) be retrieved back intact, hence the differential in the totals of responses frequencies, as would be observed in the section that immediately follows (cf. Ahmed & Mijinyawa, 2020, 2021, & 2022).

4.0 Data Analysis and Results

4.1 Data Analysis

The research primary data i.e. informants’ perceptions of the language used most in public sub-domains by members of their community are presented and analyzed in tables (1) to (5) below:

Table (1): Analysis of responses to the question ‘Which language do your community members use most at the Chief’s Palace?’

Ethno-linguistic Community

Response

Language

Frequency

Percentage

1. Agworok

Gworok

25

78.1

Hausa

5

15.6

English

2

6.3

Others

-

-

Total

32

100

 

 

 

 

2. Anghan

Anghan

30

61.2

Hausa

15

30.6

English

4

8.2

Others

-

-

Total

49

100

 

 

 

 

3. Asholio

Sholio

19

76

Hausa

6

24

English

-

-

Others

-

-

Total

25

100

 

 

 

 

4. Attakad

Takad

33

75

Hausa

10

22.7

English

1

2.3

Others

-

-

Total

44

100

 

 

 

 

5. Atyap

Tyap

21

70

Hausa

8

26.7

English

1

3.3

Others

-

-

Total

30

100

 

 

 

 

6. Bajju

Jju

32

74.4

Hausa

10

23.3

English

1

2.3

Others

-

-

Total

43

100

 

 

 

 

7. Bakulu

Bakulu

20

83.3

Hausa

4

16.7

English

-

-

Others

-

-

Total

24

100

 

 

 

 

8. Fantsuan

Fantsuan

14

70

Hausa

5

25

English

1

5

Others

-

-

Total

20

100

 

 

 

 

9. Ninkyop

 

Ninkyop

15

75

Hausa

4

20

English

1

5

Others

-

-

Total

20

100

 

 

 

 

10. Tyacherak

Tyacherak

35

71.4

Hausa

14

28.6

English

-

-

Others

-

-

Total

49

100

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 























































Table (2): Analysis of responses to the question ‘Which language do your community members use most at/in meetings?’

Ethno-linguistic Community

Response

Language

Frequency

Percentage

1. Agworok

Gworok

28

87.5

Hausa

4

12.5

English

-

-

Others

-

-

Total

32

100

 

 

 

 

2. Anghan

Anghan

49

100

Hausa

-

-

English

-

-

Others

-

-

Total

49

100

 

 

 

 

3. Asholio

Sholio

18

72

Hausa

7

28

English

-

-

Others

-

-

Total

25

100

 

 

 

 

4. Attakad

Takad

42

95.5

Hausa

2

4.5

English

-

-

Others

-

-

Total

44

100

 

 

 

 

5. Atyap

Tyap

24

80

Hausa

3

10

English

3

10

Others

-

-

Total

30

100

 

 

 

 

6. Bajju

Jju

41

95.3

Hausa

-

-

English

-

-

Others

2

4.7

Total

43

100

 

 

 

 

7. Bakulu

Bakulu

15

62.5

Hausa

7

29.2

English

2

8.3

Others

-

-

Total

24

100

 

 

 

 

8. Fantsuan

Fantsuan

12

60

Hausa

6

30

English

2

10

Others

-

-

Total

20

100

 

 

 

 

9. Ninkyop

 

Ninkyop

14

70

Hausa

4

20

English

2

10

Others

-

-

Total

20

100

 

 

 

 

10. Tyacherak

Tyacherak

37

75.5

Hausa

12

24.5

English

-

-

Others

-

-

Total

49

100

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 








































 

Table (3): Analysis of responses to the question ‘Which language do your community members use most in schools/hospitals/offices/motor parks/markets?’

Ethno-linguistic Community

Response

Language

Frequency

Percentage

1. Agworok

Gworok

11

34.4

Hausa

12

37.5

English

9

28.1

Others

-

-

Total

32

100

 

 

 

 

2. Anghan

Anghan

4

8.2

Hausa

43

87.8

English

2

4

Others

-

-

Total

49

100

 

 

 

 

3. Asholio

Sholio

8

32

Hausa

11

44

English

6

24

Others

-

-

Total

25

100

 

 

 

 

4. Attakad

Takad

16

36.4

Hausa

13

29.5

English

10

22.7

Others

5

11.4

Total

44

100

 

 

 

 

5. Atyap

Tyap

3

10

Hausa

13

43.33

English

7

23.33

Others

7

23.33

Total

30

100

 

 

 

 

6. Bajju

Jju

27

62.8

Hausa

13

30.2

English

3

7

Others

-

-

Total

43

100

 

 

 

 

7. Bakulu

Bakulu

16

66.7

Hausa

5

20.8

English

2

8.3

Others

1

4.2

Total

24

100

 

 

 

 

8. Fantsuan

Fantsuan

7

35

Hausa

5

25

English

7

35

Others

1

5

Total

20

100

 

 

 

 

9. Ninkyop

 

Ninkyop

1

5

Hausa

11

55

English

8

40

Others

-

-

Total

20

100

 

 

 

 

10. Tyacherak

Tyacherak

35

71.4

Hausa

11

22.4

English

-

-

Others

3

6.2

Total

49

100

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

























Table (4): Analysis of responses to the question ‘Which language do your community members use most at places of worship?’

Ethno-linguistic Community

Response

Language

Frequency

Percentage

1. Agworok

Gworok

8

25

Hausa

14

43.8

English

10

31.2

Others

-

-

Total

32

100

 

 

 

 

2. Anghan

Anghan

42

85.7

Hausa

6

12.2

English

1

2.1

Others

-

-

Total

49

100

 

 

 

 

3. Asholio

Sholio

1

4

Hausa

13

52

English

11

44

Others

-

-

Total

25

100

 

 

 

 

4. Attakad

Takad

12

27.3

Hausa

20

45.5

English

11

25

Others

1

2.2

Total

44

100

 

 

 

 

5. Atyap

Tyap

3

10

Hausa

17

56.7

English

8

26.7

Others

2

6.6

Total

30

100

 

 

 

 

6. Bajju

Jju

16

37.2

Hausa

18

41.8

English

7

16.3

Others

2

4.7

Total

43

100

 

 

 

 

7. Bakulu

Bakulu

11

45.8

Hausa

7

29.2

English

5

20.8

Others

1

4.2

Total

24

100

 

 

 

 

8. Fantsuan

Fantsuan

-

-

Hausa

13

65

English

4

20

Others

3

15

Total

20

100

 

 

 

 

9. Ninkyop

 

Ninkyop

-

-

Hausa

10

50

English

10

50

Others

-

-

Total

20

100

 

 

 

 

10. Tyacherak

Tyacherak

7

14.3

Hausa

38

77.6

English

4

8.1

Others

-

-

Total

49

100

 

 

 

 
































































 

Table (5): Analysis of responses to the question ‘Which language do your community members use most at ceremonies?’

Ethno-linguistic Community

Response

Language

Frequency

Percentage

1. Agworok

Gworok

18

56

Hausa

12

38

English

2

6

Others

-

-

Total

32

100

 

 

 

 

2. Anghan

Anghan

44