Genesis and Intergenerational Transfer of Ubang Gender Diglossia


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Department of Linguistics and African Languages


Ubang, spoken in Obudu, Nigeria, has gender-based language varieties whereby different terms are used for certain basic items in female and male speech forms. For instance, “okwakwe” and “abu” are respective feminine and masculine words for “dog”. Each gender uses its own variety consistently, even when conversing with adults of the other gender. Thus, there is a diglossia situation in which two gender-restricted varieties are used in Ubang community. Previous studies on the dual-sex speech forms of Ubang centred on gender (in)equality with little attention paid to how gender diglossia developed and how it is transferred to children. Hence, this study intends to investigate the antecedents of Ubang gender diglossia and its intergenerational transfer. Gender disaggregated basic words, natural conversation; focused group discussions and in-depth-interviews with purposively selected persons will be (critically) discourse analysed to tease out the ideology, agents and cultural factors which foster trans-generational maintenance of gender diglossia.