Contact in the African area: A Southern African perspective

Ana Deumert and Rajend Mesthrie

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of English

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199922765
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Contact in the African area: A Southern African perspective

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This article explores language contact in the African area, with particular focus on Southern Africa. It first looks at the formal features of English in Africa that show the complexities of contact and provide some challenges to mainstream assumptions of historical linguistics. It examines three aspects of English in Africa: the variability and often unorthodox nature of the early input varieties, the nature of language inculcation via classrooms, and the internal dialectology of second language varieties of English in Africa. It then adopts a broad ecological perspective and reflects on the fact that language contact gives rise to new varieties of English as well as new varieties of African languages. The focus of the discussion is on language change due to two main factors (a) rural-urban as well as cross-border migration, and (b) new media. While the former supported complex forms of language contact, including the emergence of new varieties characterized by intensive code-switching and code-mixing; the latter led to the development of new ways of writing both English and African languages.

Keywords: urbanization; migration; Africa; language contact; English; Southern Africa; African languages; second language acquisition; linguistics; digital communication; new media

Article.  4136 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Language Families

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