A refugee boy takes notes in a makeshift classroom in Kule, a South Sudanese refugee camp in Gambella, Ethiopia: the conflict in the world’s newest nation could have an insidious effect on its culture. (Photo/UNICEF).

How War Is Shaping Language In South Sudan; Nuer Disappears In Juba, Watch For Amharic

CONFLICT hits people in obvious, nasty ways. But there are other, more insidious effects – such as its influence on culture.

This eye-opening article explores the changes occurring right now in language use in South Sudan. It finds both gains and losses for English. Many English-language media “have suffered setbacks”, and the weakening of government institutions that would have spearheaded English is also significant.

But the outflow of refugees to English-speaking Kenya and Uganda means the language may in the future remain influential. A similar refugee-driven process could also see the strengthening of Amharic, in eastern regions bordering Ethiopia.

But the biggest losers are national language education, with the failure to finalise the new primary school curriculum, and Nuer – a language now synonymous with rebellion.


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