English(es) in Post-Independence Namibia

An Investigation of Variety Status and Its Implications for English Language Teaching

by Helene Steigertahl (Author)
Thesis 388 Pages

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • Dedication
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Illustrations
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Abbreviations
  • 1 Introduction
  • 1.1 Aims of the Study
  • 1.2 Structure of the Book
  • 1.3 Terminology
  • 2 Research into World Englishes
  • 2.1 B. Kachru’s (1985) Three Concentric Circles
  • 2.2 Schneider’s (2007) Dynamic Model
  • 2.3 Learner Englishes and English as a Second Language
  • 2.4 Implications for ELT
  • 2.4.1 British or American English or a Local Variety
  • 2.4.2 Three Models
  • 2.5 Summary
  • 3 English(es) in Africa
  • 3.1 ‘Anglophone’ Africa and African English(es)
  • 3.2 Morphosyntactic Structures of African English(es)
  • 3.3 Language Policy and Planning in Africa
  • 3.3.1 The ‘Dilemma’ of Multilingualism
  • 3.3.2 Four Possibilities of Language Policy and Language Planning in Africa
  • 3.3.3 Western Ideas for African Policies
  • 3.3.4 English and Mother-Tongue Education
  • 3.4 Summary
  • 4 English(es) in Namibia
  • 4.1 The History of Namibia
  • 4.1.1 Pre-colonial Times
  • 4.1.2 German Colonial Rule
  • 4.1.3 South African Occupation
  • 4.1.4 The Liberation Struggle
  • 4.1.5 Post-Independence Times
  • 4.2 The Linguistic Situation of Namibia
  • 4.2.1 Forms of Speech in Namibia
  • 4.2.2 The Role of English in Namibia
  • 4.3 Language Policy and Planning in Namibia
  • 4.3.1 Colonial Times
  • 4.3.2 South African Occupation
  • 4.3.3 Language Conflict
  • 4.3.4 Post-Independence Times
  • 4.4 Namibia’s Language Policy
  • 4.4.1 The Eight Principles
  • 4.4.2 Critique of the Eight Principles
  • 4.4.3 Namibia’s Educational Policy
  • 4.5 Summary
  • 5 Data Collection and Methodology
  • 5.1 Questionnaires
  • 5.1.1 Data Collection
  • 5.1.2 Participants
  • 5.1.3 Analyses
  • 5.2 Interviews
  • 5.2.1 Data Collection
  • 5.2.2 Participants
  • 5.2.3 Transcription and Mark-up of ESBNaPI
  • 5.3 Limitations and Challenges for the Researcher
  • 5.3.1 Methodological Limitations
  • 5.3.2 Language Barriers
  • 5.3.3 Conceptual Challenges
  • 5.4 Summary
  • 6 English(es) in Comparison to Home Languages in Post-Independence Namibia – A Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis of Functions, Attitudes and Education
  • 6.1 Language Use
  • 6.1.1 A Quantitative Approach
  • 6.1.2 A Qualitative Approach
  • 6.1.3 Discussion
  • 6.2 Language Attitudes
  • 6.2.1 A Quantitative Approach
  • 6.2.2 A Qualitative Approach
  • 6.2.3 Discussion
  • 6.3 English and Home Languages at School
  • 6.3.1 A Quantitative Approach
  • 6.3.2 A Qualitative Approach
  • 6.3.3 Discussion
  • 6.4 Summary
  • 7 Morphosyntactic Structures of English(es) Spoken by Black Namibians After Independence
  • 7.1 The Verb Phrase
  • 7.1.1 Modals
  • 7.1.2 Tense
  • 7.1.3 Means of Expressing Future Time
  • 7.1.4 Aspect
  • 7.1.5 Means of Expressing Hypothetical Contexts
  • 7.1.6 Illocutionary force of must
  • 7.1.7 To school for to go to school
  • 7.1.8 Go (and) + verb and come (and) + verb
  • 7.2 Nouns, Pronouns and Noun Phrases
  • 7.2.1 Count, Non-Count and Mass Nouns
  • 7.2.2 Determiners
  • 7.2.3 Quantifiers
  • 7.2.4 Pronouns
  • 7.3 Adjectives and Adverbs
  • 7.3.1 Adjectives
  • 7.3.2 Adverbs
  • 7.3.3 Intensification
  • 7.4 Prepositions, Prepositional Phrases and Phrasal Verbs
  • 7.4.1 That/this side for there/here
  • 7.4.2 at the village
  • 7.4.3 Non-Standard Use of Prepositions and Particles
  • 7.5 Agreement
  • 7.5.1 Third Person Singular Agreement
  • 7.5.2 Was/were generalizations
  • 7.5.3 There is + noun
  • 7.6 Tags
  • 7.7 Comparison with English(es) in South Africa
  • 7.7.1 The Verb Phrase
  • 7.7.2 Nouns, Pronouns and Noun Phrases
  • 7.7.3 Adjectives and Adverbs
  • 7.7.4 Prepositions, Prepositional Phrases and Phrasal Verbs
  • 7.7.5 Agreement
  • 7.7.6 Tags
  • 7.7.7 Summary
  • 7.8 Discussion and Summary
  • 8 Assessing Variety Status and Educational Policy in Post-Independence Namibia
  • 8.1 English Spoken by Black Namibians in B. Kachru’s (1985) Model
  • 8.2 English Spoken by Black Namibians in Schneider’s (2007) Model
  • 8.2.1 Phase 1: Foundation
  • 8.2.2 Phase 2: Exonormative Stabilization
  • 8.2.3 Phase 3: Nativization
  • 8.2.4 Phase 4 and beyond?
  • 8.3 ‘Spoken Black Namibian English’ or ‘English Spoken by Blacks in Namibia’?
  • 8.3.1 English as a Second Language or English as a Foreign Language?
  • 8.3.2 Conflicting Attitudes
  • 8.3.3 A Possible Label?
  • 8.4 Implications for English Language Teaching in Namibia
  • 8.4.1 Possibilities for Namibia’s Educational Policy
  • 8.4.2 Linking English Language Teaching with World Englishes
  • 8.5 Summary
  • 9 Conclusions
  • References
  • Appendix
  • Appendix Online - Additional Material

List of Illustrations

Fig. 2.1: The Three Concentric Circles Model (B. Kachru 1985).

Fig. 4.1: The Current Namibian Education System (MoE 2014: 5; the abbreviation NQF is not explained in the source).

Fig. 5.1: Ethnic Groups of Participants, Part I. n = 234.

Fig. 5.2: Ethnic Groups of Questionnaire Participants, Part II. n = 29.

Fig. 5.3: Home Languages of Questionnaire Participants. n = 263.

Fig. 5.4: Home Languages of Questionnaire Participants according to their Ethnic Belonging, Part I. n = 234.

Fig. 5.5: Home Languages of Questionnaire Participants according to their Ethnic Belonging, Part II. n = 29.

Fig. 5.6: Home Languages of Questionnaire Participants according to Places of Residence. n = 263.

Fig. 5.7: Home Languages of Interviewees. n = 77.

Fig. 5.8: Home Languages of Interviewees according to Places of Residence. n = 77.

Fig. 6.1: Language Contact and Language Use.

Fig. 6.2: (Dis-)Agreement with “When I use English, it is usually with foreign non-native speakers of English, not with Namibians”.

Fig. 6.3: Language Use in Official/Formal and Unofficial/Informal Situations.

Fig. 6.4: Language Use in Different Domains.

Fig. 6.5: Language Used for Praying and Thinking.

Fig. 6.6: Language Used for Formal, Electronic and Informal Writing and Reading.

Fig. 6.7: Preferred Language for Watching TV and Listening to the Radio.

Fig. 6.8: Language Used for Public Transport and in Shops/on Market.

Fig. 6.9: Preferred Future Official Language of Namibia and Preferred Language in General.

Fig. 6.10: (Dis-)Agreement with “I would like a local language to become the official national language in place of English”.

Fig. 6.11: Importance for Namibians to Speak English and Affinity towards English.

Fig. 6.12: English and L1 Proficiency for Jobs.

←13 | 14→

Fig. 6.13: Embarrassment without English and English as Unifying and Elite Language.

Fig. 6.14: Preferences and Usefulness of English and African Languages.

Fig. 6.15: Cultural and Ethnolinguistic Identification.

Fig. 6.16: Type of English Spoken.

Fig. 6.17: Starting Point of Learning English.

Fig. 6.18: Preferred MOI and MOI used at School.

Fig. 6.19: English and Local Languages as MOI.

Fig. 6.20: Problems with English.

List of Tables

Table 2.1: Schneider’s Dynamic Model (Schneider 2007: 56; see also Edwards 2014: 16).

Table 3.1: Morphosyntactic Features of African English(es).

Table 4.1: Criteria for Namibia’s Official Language according to the UNIN Report (UNIN 1981: 37; Dirven & Pütz 2013: 341).

Table 5.1: Places of Residence of Questionnaire Participants.

Table 5.2: Age Distribution of Questionnaire Participants.

Table 5.3: Occupation of Questionnaire Participants.

Table 5.4: Sex of Questionnaire Participants.

Table 5.5: Places of Residence of Interviewees.

Table 5.6: Age Distribution of Interviewees.

Table 5.7: Sex of Interviewees.

Table 5.8: Mark-up Conventions used for ESBNaPI (cf. du Bois 2006).

Table 6.1: Time Spent Abroad.

Table 7.1: Overview of Potential Features of the English(es) spoken by Black Namibians after Independence with Regard to Verb Phrases.

Table 7.2: Overview of Potential Features of the English(es) spoken by Black Namibians after Independence with Regard to Nouns and Pronouns.

Table 7.3: Overview of Potential Features of the English(es) spoken by Black Namibians after Independence with Regard to Adjectives and Adverbs.

Table 7.4: Overview of Potential Features of the English(es) spoken by Black Namibians after Independence with Regard to Prepositions, Prepositional Phrases and Phrasal Verbs.

Table 7.5: Overview of Potential Features of the English(es) spoken by Black Namibians after Independence with Regard to Agreement.

Table 7.6: Overview of Potential Features of the English(es) spoken by Black Namibians after Independence with Regard to Tags.

Table 8.1: Schneider’s (2014: 27) Dynamic Model applied to English spoken by Black Namibians After Independence.

Table 8.2: ESL Criteria (Buschfeld 2013: 60–69; Edwards 2014: 193) for English spoken by Black Namibians after Independence.

Table A.1: Basic Information of the 263 Participants in the Questionnaire.

←15 | 16→

Table A.2: Detailed Information about the 77 Interviewees.

Table A.3: Word List for Interviews.


Many people contributed to the project on English(es) spoken by Black Namibians after independence and I am truly thankful for their support during the past years, while I was working on this book that is based on my PhD dissertation to become what it is today.

First of all, I would like to thank all the participants of my research. Without your eagerness and willingness to participate, I would not have come anywhere. Thank you for patiently filling out the questionnaires, for listening to my questions, for telling me your stories and giving me feedback.

Secondly, I am very grateful to my contact persons, schools and organizations, i.e. Elifas #Goseb Primary School with Principal Inzea Gauchab, the Secondary School of Usakos, Shoopala Combined School with Principal Martin Shikalepo, Ruacana Primary School with Principal Lusia Shipiki, the Unlock Foundation with founder and directors Scott Karrel and Christopher Sky Sikosi and the Combined School, Emily and the Youth Center, SUNI e.V. with Barbara Scharfbillig and Patricia Ndjavera and the Project School of Gobabis, and Manuel Mayr and Elisabeth Ofner for introducing me to KIFI. I am indebted to KIFI’s staff for their support with accommodation and other troubles, especially Helena and Vionah. Special thanks go to Ismael for supporting me with numerous copies in Usakos, and even more so to my dear Daniella Grünewald, who so often ran to make more and more copies for me in Windhoek. You all facilitated my work immensely and I could not be more grateful.

On top of that, I wish to thank my dear sisters Lyama and Ndapewa Abraham, who let me stay with them and their nonas several times and provided me with a home far away from home. I am equally grateful to Tate Paulus Shipweya and Meme Selma who let me enter their home and hearts up in the north. I am also indebted to Patricia Ndjavera and her family for accommodating me and taking care of me so well in Gobabis. Furthermore, I would like to warmly thank my beloved family in Windhoek and Lüderitz, the Grünewald and Jordani Families, for letting me stay with them, especially Ma, who treated me as her own child always. Ndapandula, Tangi, Okuhepa, Ondangi, Matumero, Ndangi for your love and support in every way.

In addition, I am truly grateful to my PhD supervisor Markus Bieswanger, who supported me during all my years as a PhD student and research assistant at Bayreuth University. Thank you for your loyalty, trust, and encouragement and for your feedback after the defense so I could edit parts of the project into a book. I also wish to thank Frank Polzenhagen from the University of Heidelberg, ←17 | 18→who agreed to be my second supervisor, particularly for supporting my idea of extending my state exam thesis into a PhD project and continuing with my work. Thank you for your comments, questions and feedback.

In addition, I would like to thank Ulrich Ammon and Martin Pütz, the editors of the Duisburg Papers on Research in Language and Culture series at Peter Lang. Thank you for giving me the chance to turn my PhD project into a book and for accepting it into your series. I am also indebted to Martin Rücker, editor at Peter Lang, for making the publication process easy and smooth for me, especially during the months of my parental leave.

Moreover, I am grateful for advice and fruitful discussions on Namibian varieties of speech, fieldwork, English(es) in Namibia, statistics, education, and the concept of time with a number of colleagues and friends, i.e. Wilhelm Möhlig, Carolin Biewer, Irina Turner, Susanne Mohr, Janosch Leugner, Florian Dumpert, and Nina Teresa Simon. For moral support and motivation to pursue our goals, especially during the final phase of writing my/our PhD thesis/theses, I am indebted to my dear family and friends near and far, Matthias Klestil, Claudia Gebauer, Ralph Peat, Joana do Amaral Oliveira, Ramona Pech, Carolin Dix and Alexandra Groß in particular.

This project would not have been feasible without the Frauenbeauftragte/ Gleichstellungsbeauftragte of Bayreuth University, who supported my participation in the SAGV conference in Windhoek, the New Paradigms Conference in Sofia and the ECAS in Basel. Additionally, the Graduate School of the University of Bayreuth supported me with courses on R, an ISLE summer school on PRAAT in Amsterdam, the conference participation of ICAME in Trier, and co-organizing the FJUEL conference in Bayreuth. Besides, I am indebted to the DAAD for helping me attend the IAWE conference in Istanbul to present my preliminary findings and receive essential feedback.

Finally, I would like to thank my parents Mechthild and Christian and my brother Roman for believing in me. With them, I traveled to Namibia for the first time in 2009 and was introduced to my Namibian family and new friends far away. As a child, I had watched my father’s super 8 films of his trip through many parts of the African continent with a VW mini bus in 1981. So I was introduced to Namibia by short films and long stories and soon felt familiar with Namibia even though I had not been there yet. My greatest thanks go to Janeman Hamid. Tashakkor, Manane for your constant support, for trusting in me, and never letting me give up.

I dedicate this work to some of the strongest women I know: To my beautiful grandmothers, Ingrid and Eva, my mother Mechthild, to Auntie Lena, and Maysa. Thank you for inspiring me with your wisdom, intelligence, curiosity, open-mindedness and bravery.


This volume contributes to the fields of World Englishes, English Language Teaching and Second Language Acquisition, assessing the English(es) spoken in post-Independence Namibia beyond variety status. Based on questionnaires and corpus analysis, the author analyzes morphosyntactical structures, language use and attitudes towards English(es) in comparison to home languages. She gives new insights into the structure of spoken language and potential varieties of English in particular. Focus is put on a geographical area that only recently attracted increasing attention in the field of World Englishes. The author’s work can be regarded as an attempt to bridge several aspects of the frequently discussed «paradigm gap» between World Englishes and Second Language Acquisition studies.


ISBN (Book)
Publication date
2019 (December)
mother-tongue education World Englishes African English(es) educational policy morphosyntax language attitudes
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, 2020., 388 S., 23 farb. Abb., 7 s/w Abb., 23 Tab.

Biographical notes

Helene Steigertahl (Author)

Helene Steigertahl studied English, German and European Art History at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Afterwards she worked as a Research Assistant and completed her PhD in English Linguistics at Bayreuth University.


Title: English(es) in Post-Independence Namibia