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Pluricentric Languages and Non-Dominant Varieties Worldwide

Part I: Pluricentric Languages across Continents. Features and Usage

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Edited By Rudolf Muhr

This is the first of two thematically arranged volumes with papers that were presented at the "World Conference of Pluricentric Languages and their non-dominant Varieties" (WCPCL). It comprises papers about 20 PCLs and 14 NDVs around the world. The second volume encompasses a further 17 papers about the pluricentricity of Portuguese and Spanish. The conference was held at the University of Graz (Austria) on July 8th-11th 2015. The papers fall into five categories: (1) Theoretical aspects of pluricentricity and the description of variation; (2) Different types of pluricentricity in differing environments; (3) African pluricentric languages and non-dominant varieties; (4) The pluricentricity of Arabic and Asian languages; (5) The pluricentricity of European languages inside Europe (Austrian German, Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian, Hungarian, Belgium Dutch, French, Greek, Swedish, Russian).

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Swahili in Eastern Congo: Status, role and attitudes

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Abstract

The paper offers a brief historical overview of the presence of Swahili – often described as a pluricentric1 language in the Eastern Congo. The change of political regimes did have an impact on the role and actual use of Swahili in the Eastern Congo region, mainly Lubumbashi since the 19th century. Nowadays Swahili is one of the four national languages in the DR Congo, among others like Kikongo, Lingala and Tshiluba, while French is the official language. First, the challenge of defining Swahili is discussed, followed by a sociolinguistic overview of the status and use of Swahili in Lubumbashi. Then some examples (published in books and newspapers and comments of readers in the internet) will illustrate the role of Swahili for each specific time period. The proposed seven criteria to define a pluricentric language (Clyne 1992: 1, Muhr 2012: 30) will be addressed where they are of crucial interest.

1.   Introduction

After independence of the Congo from Belgium in 1960 it was especially Mobutu Sese Seko, who, during his 32 years of dictatorship from 1965 to 1997, pursued a language policy which was based on the idea of Authenticité (e.g. Blommaert 2013; Bokamba 1976; Mazrui/ Mazrui 1995), with a strong preference for Lingala, the language of his region of origin. Nevertheless, beside French, one of the official languages (during most of the times), in the Eastern parts of the Congo, mainly in the mining regions of Katanga and its capital city Lubumbashi,...

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