Dr. Showalter examines language attitudes and bilingualism in four rural speech communities in Burkina Faso, West Africa. His study provides a detailed look into ways in which these communities respond to the everyday linguistic diversity of their milieu. Maps and diagrams add clarity in explaining the linguistic situation.
For his research, he adapted the matched-guise testing method in order to explore attitudes toward the language variation that permeates rural West African life. His results demonstrate the viability of indirect testing methods in this environment. They reveal, on the one hand, numerical measures of linguistic variability and bilingual achievement, and on the other hand, community attitudes toward shared ethnic identity, social contact, linguistic awareness, personal character, and social status. He fleshed out the survey data with ethnographic insights gained during the two years he spent in rural Burkina Faso carrying out his research.
Linguists and anthropologists interested in the interplay of language and society, as well as Africanists seeking a better understanding of the sometimes astounding linguistic diversity of the region, will find this book especially valuable.