Norm Selection and Standardisation in Gamo


  • Almaz Wasse Gelagay ILOS, University of Oslo



This research deals with norm selection practices and the accompanying challenges in the standardisation process of Gamo Omotic North Ometo language. The language has recently developed a written form which mainly serves as a medium of instruction. In attempting to explore the construction of written norms, this research has applied concepts that focus on how the use of a language affects a society (Labov 1970: 30, cited in Wardhaugh 2006:16) and what social conditions inspire the legitimisation and construction of a standard norm (Bourdieu 1991). A linguistic approach (Byron 1978:398) has been used to trace the norm selection practices in written Gamo. The data has come from written documents, interviews and focus group discussions. This analysis of the salient issues uncovers the underlying problems of the standardisation process (Kaplan and Baldauf 1997:88). The results demonstrated that the standard norm is based on the Northern dialects of Gamo, especially the Ɗače dialect. By assessing the current trends of standardisation and the social views towards it, this research argues for a 'dialect democracy approach' where norms of various dialects are unified and a neutral standard is established (Msimang 1998).

Author Biography

Almaz Wasse Gelagay, ILOS, University of Oslo

Researcher, Russian linguistics



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