Language Contexts

Gorwaa (Tanzania) -- Language Contexts


  • Andrew Harvey


Gorwaa is a South Cushitic language, spoken in north-central Tanzania. The number of speakers is approximately 132,748, and though used frequently in rural areas, many speakers are shifting to Swahili for everyday use, especially in the larger towns. Gorwaa is the name of the ethnic group, as well as the name of the language. 

Gorwaa is closely related to the other South Cushitic languages of Tanzania, namely: Iraqw, Alagwa, and Burunge; there is a high degree of mutual intelligibility between Gorwaa and Iraqw. That being said, speakers from both communities consider themselves as two separate ethnic groups, and there are several salient lexical and morphosyntactic differences between Gorwaa and Iraqw. 

This paper provides an overview of the larger context in which Gorwaa is spoken. Section 2 sketches the history of its speaker community. Section 3 outlines the relationships (both genetic and areal) that exist between Gorwaa and other languages in the area. Section 4 provides details on language use and language attitudes (including speaker numbers, language vitality, and how speakers perceive Gorwaa). Section 5 explains the different names used (and currently in use) to label the Gorwaa language. Section 6 mentions important works about Gorwaa which precede this one....


GorwaaSouth CushiticTanzanian Rift Valley AreaLanguages of Tanzanialanguage attitudes
  • Year: 2019
  • Volume: 16
  • Page/Article: 127-168
  • DOI: 10.25894/ldd124
  • Published on 31 Aug 2019
  • children