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Allocation of loanwords into Kinyarwanda: Specific areas of influence

NISC Pty Ltd


The coexistence of English and French alongside Kinyarwanda results in various sociolinguistic aspects. One of the sociolinguistic phenomena observed in this coexistence is the influx of French and English loanwords in Kinyarwanda. Included in these alien words are deceptive cognates of French and English, which render the use of the three languages more complex. The speaker faces a challenge while conversing in either English or French. The understanding of deceptive cognates, false friends or ‘look alikes’, would enable the speaker to express his ideas correctly and communicate more fluently. Pairs of words in French and English with a common origin where the homonym suggests the synonym are seldom mastered. The predominance of French loanwords testifies that French lent more words to Kinyarwanda than any other language. This is understandable because of the historical ties between Rwanda and two European French speaking countries: Belgium and France. Rwanda obtained independence from the colonial master, Belgium, on 1 July 1962, but continued the ties it enjoyed during the colonial era. Later, when a military coup brought late President Juvenal Habyarimana into power, France was in better shape to exercise its influence over Rwanda.S.Afr.J.Afr.Lang., 31(2) 2011

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