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Age and Patterns of Dialect Use in the Contact of Lubukusu and Lutachoni


Despite having freedom of choice of the language to use in public domains, majority languages still dominate in communication and interaction among interlocutors. This study looked at inter-dialect contact between Lubukusu and Lutachoni in Bungoma North Sub-county of Bungoma County. The specific study objective was to investigate influence of age on the use of Lubukusu and Lutachoni dialects of Luhya language. The study was guided by two theories: Ethnolinguistic vitality theory which reasons that maintenance/shift of a language is based on a group’s vitality to act collectively in intergroup situations; and Domain theory which explains the dominance of languages in domains based on the choice of interlocutors and the language they maintain in different environments for different purposes. Purposive, sampling was used to select the Bukusu and the Tachoni while stratified sampling was used to get proportions of three age groups. Simple random sampling was used to identify 33 respondents in every age group for both the Bukusu and the Tachoni. A sample size of 198 respondents was obtained. Data were collected using a closed ended questionnaire because the researcher wanted to limit the responses to the two dialects, while interview schedule was used to collect data from old age respondents. The study used mixed methods research design. Qualitative data were analyzed by content analysis to get information on the emerging dominant trends in the use of the two dialects in education and home domain. Quantitative data were analyzed using frequency tables, line and bar graphs to present information on the frequency of use of the two dialects and emerging patterns based on the three age groups. The study found out that generally in the contact of the two dialects, Lubukusu is dominantly maintained in the respondents in the region of study. In the home domain, the vitality of Lubukusu in the middle age respondents is the highest (61%) followed by the vitality of the young age and old age at par (58%). In Lutachoni, the vitality of the young age and old age is at par (42%). The vitality of Lutachoni in the middle age is the lowest (39%). In the education domain, the vitality of Lubukusu is highest in the middle age respondents (79%) followed by the old age respondents (70%). The vitality of Lubukusu in the young age respondents is the lowest (59%).Comparatively, in the contact of the two dialects; the use of Lutachoni is lower. It's vitality in the old age respondents is 30% followed by the vitality of the young age and old age respondents at par (21%).These findings imply that the maintenance of Lutachoni in education is in favour of Lubukusu. The study recommends the promotion of Lutachoni in education to safeguard the linguistic and cultural identity of the Tachoni. The study contributes to further research into Luhya inter-language competition phenomena focusing on Lubukusu and Lutachoni.


Age, patterns, dialect, Lubukusu and Lutachoni

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