Language attitudes towards Sheng: deterioration or unification?

sheng nation

This post is a rewritten version of my paper for the course ‘Postcolonial Linguistics’, offered at Linguistics at Aarhus University in the autumn of 2013. I wanted to delve into different language attitudes towards Sheng – and what better way to do it than through Youtube video comments?

Sheng? WTF?

Sheng is as a language variety of Swahili – a mixture of Swahili, English and a host of regional languages of Kenya. The grammatical structure stems from Swahili while incorporating terms from English and indigenous Kenyan tongues (e.g. Dholuo and Kikuyu). Consider the following example (adapted from Abdulaziz and Osinde 1997:56):

Kithora   ma-doo       za      mathee
steal      PL-money    of      mother
‘To steal my mother’s money.’

Here, kithora stems from the Kikuyu …

Linguistic Ethnography in Barber Shoppen


In the spring of 2014, I (and other brave MA-students) took a course in Linguistic Ethnography at Aarhus University. Our research group quickly decided to explore the field of local haircutting parlors. This blog entry tells of my field work at Barber Shoppen.

Barber Shoppen is ‘a wonderful place where men can be men without having to be filled with female products and girl talk’. In essence, it caters the wishes of men who seek the atmosphere and service of an old school barber. When walking in through their doors, I expected to meet beefy, mustached men in aprons giving close shaves, customers smoking cigars and enjoying a scotch in classic barber seats, soft jazz music playing in …