Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9 - 11 december 2005

<< Postcolonial innovations and transformations: Putting language in the forefront

African languages as a battleground: The diminishing role of indigenous languages in gender discourse

Jacqueline Adhiambo Oduol (United States International University, Nairobi, Kenya)



Culture has been seen to carry much of the weight for women's lack of empowerment, particularly in the sub- Saharan region of Africa. Since language is the vehicle through which culture is transmitted, African languages have been viewed as critical tools for perpetuating belief and value systems that constitute a major barrier to the realization of women's rights and gender equality. This paper explores the extent to which the meaning attached to concepts and symbols expressed through African languages in gender discourse is influenced by dominant or co-cultural language systems. I argue that language is not simply symbols or rule systems that permit communication but also the "means by which people think and construct reality" and that this is largely influenced by culture ( Samovar & Larry 2001). It is therefore necessary to indicate the cultural frame of reference and interpretation when demonstrating how women's powerlessness in society, as well as the social construction and maintenance of inequality between women and men is enhanced through indigenous languages in gender discourse.

Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-10-06