[lg policy] bibitem: Choosing a Working Language in Multiethnic Nations: Rethinking Ethiopia=?windows-1252?Q?=92s_?=Working Language Policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Apr 19 15:04:23 UTC 2012

Choosing a Working Language in Multiethnic Nations: Rethinking
Ethiopia’s Working Language Policy
Fiseha Haftetsion Gebresilassie*


The language policy of Ethiopia during the imperial and the military regimes
prioritized Amharic as the state’s sole official language and discriminated
against all other Ethiopian languages. Though the current language policy is
radical by comparison as it allows for the use of one’s language of
choice in all
public arenas, Amharic still enjoys paramount predominance because it is
recognized as the sole official working language of the Federal Government in
the current Constitution. This liberal language policy is unique in
that no other
country with a comparable socio-economic situation has the same language
policy. This paper argues, however, that this policy can harm Ethiopia
by slowing
down its global economic integration and by fuelling conflicts that arise from
disputes over language use. As a remedy, this paper proposes adopting English
as the sole official working language of the Federal Government with a slight
difference of implementation in the area of education in the federal

Key Words
Language policy, Ethiopia, Ethno-linguistic discrimination

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