Federal Language Practice, Linguistic Resistance, and Policy Options in Ethiopia


  • Yonattan Araya Zemariam MU Author


Ethiopia, federal language practice, linguistic resistance, options


The aim of this paper is to examine language policy and linguistic resistance over the use of Amharic as a single federal language in Ethiopia. To this end, a qualitative approach was used to collect data through interviews with 28 key informants. Qualitative data were categorized into themes and analysed thematically. The study revealed that the government’s language policy and practice have brought about inequalities at the federal level. The use of Amharic as a sole federal language has become the cause for linguistic, cultural and social inequalities. As a result, speakers of competent languages have resisted the use of Amharic as the sole working language of the federal government and pressed for the use of their languages at the federal level, sometimes through revolt that has involved looting and burning down properties. Therefore, it is concluded that tough resistance against the use of Amharic as a sole federal language is likely to force the government to make language policy changes. Two viable policy options that contribute to language policy change and mitigate linguistic resistances, social discrimination, and linguistic inequalities are identified: Neutral language use and the use of major indigenous languages.