Frank Seidel frank.zidle at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 8 18:36:56 UTC 2011

Dear Frans,

on that note you might want to mention the fact that in Western Africa there
exists a long tradition of writing local languages in Arabic script. This
continues even today despite the proliferation of literacy in the Latin
script based European languages that dominate officialdom in the region.
While working in Guinea, I have received receipts written in "Ajami", which
is the Arabic script based writing system used to write Wolof, Pulaar etc.
Many people have signed their names in Arabic script because they did not
know the Latin script. However, these people are often categorized as

You can look for further information and further references in:

Luepke, Friederike 2004. Language Planning in West Africa - who writes the
script? In: Peter K. Austin *(*ed)*, Language Documentation and Description,
vol 2:90ff

*I hope this helps*.

*Kind regards,

Frank Seidel

On Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 2:02 PM, Frans Plank <frans.plank at>wrote:

> Dear literate lingtypists,
> were you aware that today is UNESCO's International Literacy Day?  (
> building-blocks/literacy/**advocacy/international-**literacy-day/<>
> )
> They complain that 793 million adults worldwide lack minimum literacy
> skills:  one in 6 adults is still not literate.
> Does anybody know how they count the speakers of non-written languages?
>  Does 'illiterate' in UNESCO speak also include these?
> Are there reliable figures of the numbers of non-written languages and
> their speakers?  I'm asking because I tend to mention this sort of thing in
> teaching.  Perhaps typologists should be aware of this, too.
> yours
> Frans
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