Urbanized African Sociolinguistics - Questioning research foci 
Helene Steigertahl (Bayreuth University)
Susanne Mohr (University of Bonn)
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Start time:
29 June, 2017 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

In the sociolinguistic description of language(s) in Africa, there is a dichotomy between approaches focusing on urban as opposed to rural areas. The panel intends to unite theoretical and methodological approaches to urban and rural spaces to account for language use in Africa more realistically.

Long Abstract

Rural Africa being considered "backward" (Wang et al. 2013: 14), sociolinguistic studies in Africa have often focused on urban areas, where globalization and communication are supposedly taking place.

This creates a dichotomy between approaches focusing on urban centers with newly developing linguistic codes, language used by the elite, as opposed to approaches concentrating on language documentation in rural areas.

Several studies concentrate on youth languages (Kiessling&Mous 2004; Nassenstein&Hollington 2015), varieties of English (e.g. International Corpus of English project), and the use and attitudes towards English in e.g. capitals and universities. Most of the data on African Englishes has been collected in these urban centers among the educated elite (e.g. Arua 2004, Bekker 2008, Hoffmann 2010&2011, Kadenge 2009, Skandera 2003, Stell 2014, van Rooy 2007). In contrast, data collected in rural areas rather focuses on smaller languages and only little research has been conducted on language use, especially of English (Nassenstein forthc.; Wang et al. 2013).

This panel intends to bring together sociolinguistic studies in rural and urban Africa as two intertwined spaces. It aims at developing a theoretical and methodological framework applicable to both. Some of the ensuing questions are:

Are rural and urban Africa two different linguistic settings?

Do language use and attitudes differ in rural and urban Africa?

Why is rural language use mostly neglected in World Englishes research?

Are sociolinguistic methods equally applicable to urban and rural spaces or are new frameworks needed to analyze them adequately?

Contributions from African studies, Sociolinguistics, World Englishes are equally welcome.

Accepted papers: