HERMAN BATIBO is Professor of African Linguistics at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, but currently serving as Professor of African Linguistics and Head of the Department of African Languages and Literature at the University of Botswana, Southern Africa. Dr. Batibo is a Ph.D. graduate of La Sorbonne-Paris (1977). His research interests are in phonology, comparative/historical linguistics, and sociolinguistics. His specific areas of concern in recent years have been patterns of language shift and maintenance in Tanzania and Botswana.
This paper is based on a study which was carried out on ten (out of 23) minority languages of Botswana. The aim was to find out whether important information from the international/official and national media, namely English and Setswana respectively, reached the minority groups. The results of the survey were far-reaching in that they revealed that apart from the fact that the minority languages were endangered as linguistic, cultural, and literary entities, many of the speakers were starved for important information, particularly vital knowledge such as the dangers of AIDS, malaria, and lung diseases or the means to better socieconomic life. Moreover, the study demonstrated that the disempowerment of the minority languages resulted in their losing both status and roles, which in turn affected the speakers' attitudes towards them and even their own ethnic identity. Consequently, there was heavy structural erosion, reduction of functions, and diminution in the number of speakers.
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