|This article on the transmission systems of languages within
the family gives a study carried out with two hundred French-speaking Senegaleses in
Dakar. It describes their perceptions of the linguistic practices of three generations :
that which precedes them, theirs and that which follows them. These representations are
synthesized, highlighting the differences perceived according to the ethnic membership and
to the first language of the respondents.
First of all, the article describes the ethno-linguistic situation in Senegal. It poses a initial distinction between Wolof and the non-Wolof ethnic groups (Peul, Toucouleur, Sereer, Diola, Manding, Soninke, and other non wolof ethnic groups). Then, it exposes the methodology of the study. Lastly, it presents in three parts, the results of the study : the parents, the children and the modes of transmission of languages.
The situation of Wolof is easy to described. Wolof is, in effect, the only language whose transmission is ensured from generation to generation. The members of this ethnic group are not confronted with difficulties relating to the choice of language or languages to use in the family ; they give precedence to the alliance of the two dominant languages (wolof and French), thus reinforcing the stability of the group of membership, even its predominance.
The situation of non-Wolof ethnic groups is more complex because, even when the two parents belong to the same ethnic group, there is a competition between the vernacular language of the community of origin and wolof which appears as a language that one must know if one is to live in Dakar.
The ethnic identity of the non-wolof respondents influence the degree of assimilation of their language. One notes that the Diola, Peul and Sereer respondents of the sample are most refractory to using wolof in the family circle. Also, the fact of not having grown up in Dakar is a factor in using a non-Wolof language. Many non-wolof families thus manage to transmit the language of their group of origin, in spite of the ambient wolof domination. This phenomenon could be accentuated with the increasing presence of young people (20-30 years) whose two parents speak a vernacular language.
The data relating to the education of children is rich in information because it reflects the expectations and the aspirations of the French-speaking Senegaleses living in Dakar. The first element of change compared to the preceding generations is the desire, massively expressed, to adopt plurilinguism in family education. The second element to be highlighted is the importance attached to the French language in education, as expressed, especially by the non-Wolof who choose this language to the detriment of the wolof, undoubtedly because the control of French is considered as an instrument which could possibly reverse the power forces between the ethnic groups.
The analysis of the practices, as described by the respondents, clearly emphasizes the inequality of the ethno-linguistics groups with regards to languages. According to the configuration of the parental couple of origin, certain languages " are lost " at the time of the transmission from one generation to the other (grandparents, parents, children), while others are transmitted without difficulty. In addition, it is observed that plurilinguism takes a greater importance in family education. One notes that the majority of the French-speaking Senegaleses living in Dakar express their will to transmit French to their children, as well as the first language.
The French-speaking Senegales wish to ensure the success of their child through a school system organized in French. They thus wish to ensure that the school takes the relay of their own family.
This recentering of linguistic practices in the Dakar family goes hand in hand with the diminishing role of the Senegalese education system. The consequences of such an evolution can be anticipated in language policy. Senegaleses wish that the multilingual reality of their country and in their be taken into account.