Asimjeeg Datooga is a variety of the Southern Nilotic dialect cluster referred to as Datooga ([tcc]) and is spoken in four communities in northern Tanzania. As a part of the project “Documenting Isimjeeg Datooga” funded by the Endangered Language Documentation Programme (Project Code: IGS0229), I have created an archive deposit on the Endangered Language Archive.
Asimjeeg Datooga Communities
The four communities in which Asimjeeg is spoken can be seen in an online map, available here.
Mang’ola (Laghangareri, Malekchand, and Dumbechand villages)
This is where perhaps the largest number of Asimjeeg Datooga live as of early 2017. In neighboring villages Malekchand and Dumbechand there are also Asimjeeg speakers. The Asimjeeg are said to have arrived here mid-20th century and established irrigation channels. Since that time agricultural activity has boomed and many Iraqw and other groups have settled in the area. The Asimjeeg tend to occupy the western side of Laghangareri, at the edge of the Mang’ola area and near the bush. Mang’ola as a whole is the most developed region where the Asimjeeg live. As of early 2017 there is tap water, 3G internet, and electricity in some areas (Ghorofani, Barazani, and Malekchand, but not Laghangareri or Dumbechand). It is estimated that there are 400-600 speakers in this area.
Law (areas around Issenye village, Mara region)
This area is the original homeland of the Asimjeeg and other Datooga clans. At sometime around the beginning of the 20th century many of the Bajuta and the Asimjeeg migrated south. Some of the Asimjeeg are said to have remained in Law since that time, while others have remigrated north. As of March 2017, the number of speakers in the area was very few. In a village called Manawa just north of Issenye village there were the most speakers, perhaps up to 100. In an area called Iharara just south of Issenye village there are a handful of speakers. These areas are where Asimjeeg is most endangered, and there may be linguistic influence from neighboring Bantu languages like Issenye and Kuria, as well as Rotigenga Datooga.
This is a densely populated village surrounded by sparsely populated homestead areas. Despite its size, roughly equivalent to that of Barazani, the largest village of Mang’ola, there is very little infrastructure here (i.e. as of 2017 no electricity, no tap water, very little phone network). Some of the Asimjeeg in the area continue to live more or less traditional lives, while others have moved to the village. Here the Asimjeeg are mixed with mostly Bantu groups, including the Sukuma, the Iramba, and the Nyamwezi. It is estimated that there are 400-600 Asimjeeg living in the area.
This is the most remote community of the Asimjeeg Datooga. It was first settled in the mid-20th century and as of early 2017 consists of two dozen or so homesteads and some farmland. In this area the Asimjeeg are surrounded by other Datooga groups, including the Barabaig and Gisamjanga. It is estimated that there are about 100 to 200 speakers in the area.
The level of endangerment of Asimjeeg Datooga varies from community to community. It is most endangered in Law, where very few fluent speakers remain but the language is being passed on to some children (close to 7 on the EGIDS scale). In Laghangareri and Matala there are pockets of adult speakers that continue to pass the language on to their children, but Swahili is used widely and mixed with Asimjeeg in regular speech (6b to 7 on the EGIDS scale). In Dugwamuhosht, it is used most widely and is being learned by children, although there is influence from other Datooga varieties (6a to 6b on the EGIDS scale).