chapter  5
24 Pages

Lexical Borrowings as Pathways to Senegal’s Past and Present

WithFallou Ngom

This chapter utilizes the loanwords as a means of understanding how the linguistic and socio-historical systems cooperate in a multilingual and multicultural society such as Senegal. It demonstrates that lexical borrowing does not occur randomly, but is the product of social, cultural, political, or ideological interventions. The chapter presents the social, political, cultural, and ideological history of Senegal encoded in French, Arabic, English, and Spanish lexical loanwords in Wolof. In fact, loanwords are triggered and constrained by the social, historical, political, cultural, and generational changes that occur in specific social groups or classes in a given society. Thus, the use of Arabic lexical units in Wolof with a standard Arabic pronunciation is as much a source of social prestige in informal and religious settings as it is a marker of religious erudition. In terms of sociolinguistic implications, the use of incorporated loans starkly contrasts with the use of newly introduced loans in the Wolof speech community.