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 …

The complicated femininity of “Sut Min Klit”


How many of you have felt personally victimized by Nikoline?[1] The list of her targets in “Sut Min Klit” (Danish for “Suck my clit”) is long: her male peers, pedophiles, rapists, religious leaders (all of them grouped as sexual predators in the same way), and even other women. Nikoline’s recently unleashed song and video one-two punch is impossible to ignore, both perfectly designed to provoke a strong reaction. (Listen to the song here).

The song has generated headlines since it was released. Can you consider Nikoline a feminist? Are people as offended when there’s a man behind lyrics like these? Isn’t her inflexible standpoint as bad as the extremism she denounces? These are all questions that can spark …

Around Europe in Sixty Languages by Gaston Dorren. Book review.

Dorren cover lingo

This post is a book review of Gaston Dorren’s Lingo: A Language Spotter’s Guide to Europe AND Lingo. Around Europe in Sixty Languages. First edition 2014. New York: Grove Press. Accompanying website:

A friend of mine went all the way to the United States and all she bought for me was this book, “Lingo”. The similarity between the name of this blog, and the book is purely coincidental. The author of Lingo is the Dutch language journalist Gaston Dorren.

Lingo is an English adapted version of his Dutch book Taaltoerisme, or “language tourism”, which Dorren wrote a few years ago. A respected friend and colleague had read the book in its Dutch version, and his judgment …

Name signs in Danish Sign Language

Danish SL Figure 1 Danish sign^language

A name sign is a personal sign assigned to deaf, hearing impaired and hearing persons who enter the deaf community. The mouth action accompanying the sign reproduces all or part of the formal first name that the person has received by baptism or naming. Name signs can be compared to nicknames in spoken languages, where a person working as a blacksmith by his friends might be referred to as ‘The Blacksmith’ (‘Here comes the Blacksmith!’) instead of using the person’s first name. Name signs are found not only in Danish Sign Language (DSL) but in most, if not all, sign languages studied to date.

It varies greatly when – and by whom – a person gets her/his name sign, and …