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Zaghawa-Wagi: Towards documenting the Sudanese dialectal variant of Zaghawa

(ELDP, 07/2015-12/2016)

Zaghawa (autonym: Beria) is spoken by approximately 170.000 speakers in Sudan (North Darfur state) and Chad. The project focuses on the distinct Sudanese dialect Wagi.

While this dialect is still spoken, it is rapidly giving way to Arabic due to a policy of Arabicization in Sudan and large-scale displacements in the course of the civil war in Darfur - both strong factors for language endangerment.
It is now spoken in bilingual and multilingual contexts with Arabic as the dominant language. Children no longer grow up with Zaghawa, at least not as their dominant language; and middle-aged and elder people no longer speak Zaghawa on a daily basis, at least not in the cities where most of the population is living nowadays.

This is a pilot project which grew out of a seminar on field methods. It explores the feasibility of a comprehensive documentation of Wagi and consists in establishing a field site in Khartoum (Sudan), collecting preliminary sociolinguistic, lexical and natural data and developing a preliminary practical orthography. Besides this line of work during fieldwork the already existing cooperation between the University of Cologne and the University of Khartoum was strengthened. Thus the project benefits from the local expertise and, at the same time, it contributes to capacity building in the Sudan.