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Kiswahili use as a factor for First Language lexical attrition among Chasu speakers

Erasmus A. Msuya


The present study assessed role of Kiswahili as Second Language (L2) in the attrition of Chasu as First Language (L1). It specifically sought to establish how Kiswahili use in home and school settings have resulted into reduced lexical competence in Chasu of young people. The study involved 100 participants who were pupils in rural schools in Mwanga Administrative District in Tanzania. These were purposively chosen via convenient sampling. Data were gathered using proficiency test that focuused on names for kitchenware, houseware, domestic animals and their body parts, wild animals, people occupations and people emotions and movements. The findings demonstrate the high degree of lexical loss of Chasu words among the young people the majority of whom replaced the target items with Kiswahili equivalents while others Kiswahilised the Chasu names. It has been concluded that while Kiswahili as a lingua franca and language of education in most public primary schools is appreciated, it has adverse consequences to the growth of heritage languages. If the trend of lexical attrition continues (and in other linguistic levels outside the scope of the study) Tanzania might become linguistically tribeless where only Kiswahili and some foreign languages will be in use.

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eISSN: 0023-1886