A central discipline within linguistics is language description, which in many cases is carried out by white, Western researchers doing fieldwork on languages that are not spoken in the West. It is no secret that this tradition has its roots partly in European colonization and partly in Christian missionary work. Many language descriptions have thus been motivated by the wish to describe and map out the cultures and areas that the Europeans colonized, and furthermore, language descriptions have acted as foundations for translations of the Bible in connection with Christian missionary work. Much of modern linguistics is built on the works of this tradition, but despite this, it has not has not confronted its colonial past as a scientific discipline. … ↪
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 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 … ↪