Centrality of Minority Languages in Development Programs: Analysis of How Aliba, Gimara and Reli Languages of North Western Uganda can be Considered Central in Language Development Programs

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This study analyzed why Aliba, Gimara, and Reli languages have not been considered central in language development programs. The central research question was “Why are Aliba, Gimara and Reli languages not considered central in the language development programs? The specific objectives of the study were; To find out how the useability; survival, distinctiveness; and representation of the Aliba, Gimara and Reli ethnic groups contribute to their consideration in languages development programs. The research adopted an action research design using a qualitative research design, based on descriptive approaches. A sample of 218 respondents were considered for the study although data was collected from 195 respondents selected using Morgan and Kreigie sampling tables. Findings on useability showed that Aliba, Gimara and Reli are spoken in their communities, that is in their homes, worship places, markets, and other public places. However, these minority languages have been suppressed and submerged by the prestige languages in the region even when they are being used. These languages risk extinction if not considered central in language development programs. On survival, it was clearly noted by the researcher that most respondents from Aliba, Gimara and Reli indicated that they had never seen or read anything written in their own languages. For many years Aliba, Gimara and Reli people have not received the necessary help to intentionally engage in activities that grow their language and culture.On distinctiveness, findings showed that Aliba, Gimara and Reli are distinct languages that need to be considered as such and not as minor or dialects to bigger languages. Alibas are proud to identify themselves as such and therefore speak Aliba at home and outside of their homes. This is the same with Gimara and Reli as shown in the study findings. On representations, it was found that Reli, Aliba and Gimara are not adequately represented on language development platforms because they are usually subdued and overshadowed by the majority languages that make them feel inferior. At the national level they are not yet scheduled in the constitution as indigenous languages in Uganda. On use ability the study recommends that development partners should initiate possible programs to develop orthographies which will enable these languages to come up with alphabets of their languages and also develop language writing systems. On distinctiveness, the study recommends that an initiative be taken to submit a formal request to the government seeking to be officially recognized as distinct indigenous languages on the national language identification list. On survival, the study recommends that the Church and development partners should begin efforts to translate scripture in these languages to enable the people to read and worship God freely in their indigenous languages. On representation, the study recommends that the different forums in which Aliba, Gimara and Reli people are found should be given adequate representation to articulate their needs as opposed to depending on views from majority languages who do not support their inclusion in language development.