[lg policy] bibitem: Language Policy in Ethiopia: History and Current Trends

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 31 15:05:51 UTC 2010

Language Policy in Ethiopia: History and Current Trends
   Getachew Anteneh *  Derib Ado**

Ethiopia, as one of the multilingual and multicultural countries, has
faced the critical problem of development and implementation of
language use policy that could satisfy the needs of various societies
in question and contribute to their socioeconomic and socio-cultural
development. The various governments that ruled Ethiopia since the
reign of Emperor Tewodros II followed various language use policies
that suit their political orientation.
The major objective of this paper was to seek answers to the following
a.	What type of language policy did Ethiopia have in the past?
b.	What is the language policy of the country today?
c.	How is Ethiopia implementing its language policy today?

The historical survey of language use policy was made based on the
secondary data (i.e. written documents) from different sources. The
study on the implementation of the current language policy of the
country focuses mainly on four regional states, namely Amhara, Oromiya
and SNNP regional states and the Addis Ababa City Administration.
Interviews were conducted with various bodies that are concerned with
developing, implementing and monitoring language use policies, such as
the Ethiopian Language Research Center, the Ministry of Tourism and
Culture, the information and education bureaus of three regional
states, namely the Amhara, Oromiya and SNNP regional states to get the
necessary data.

The analysis of the data shows that though there had been a change
from having no written policy to a policy that encourages the
development and use of all the languages in the country, the
implementation showed a little change in the time from the reign of
Tewodros II up to the end of the Derg. The language policies of
Tewodros II, Minilek II, Hailesellasie I and the Derg regime had been
similar on the ground level: they all implemented a one-language
language use policy .The language use policy of the current
government, however, is quite different in its approach and
implementation. The implementation of a multilingual language use
policy has served the country both its blessings and consequences.

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