Multilingualism and nation building: Language and education in Eritrea

Chefena Hailemariam, Sjaak Kroon, Joel Walters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This paper focuses on language choice in the newest nation in the Horn of Africa within a broader context of language policy in multilingual states. Pre-colonial and post-colonial language policies in Eritrea are surveyed in relation to evolving linguistic and political nationalism. Language contact and its social consequences are discussed in an attempt to shed light on language policies pursued during different periods in the colonial history of Eritrea. Using descriptive frameworks provided by contemporary sociolinguistics, post-independence language policy, with language and education at the centre, is looked at from the perspective of the functional allocation of nine Eritrean languages and the points at which they conflict and complement each other. Public responses and evaluations are analysed and implications for further research are advanced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-493
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999


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