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English(es) in Post-Independence Namibia

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


Helene Steigertahl

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.

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3 English(es) in Africa


This chapter introduces English(es) in Africa. First, the status and role of English(es) in Africa, e.g. as a killer or additional language, is examined, before potential morpho-syntactic structures are identified. Then, LPLP in Africa is investigated, with primary focus on educational policies, hence English and MTE. Overall, this chapter creates a basis for further investigations on English(es) in Namibia.

As many languages are used due to the continent’s ethnolinguistic diversity, it can be assumed that “[o];f all continents, Africa is the most complex linguistically” (Spencer 1991: ix). Similarly, Bokamba (1982: 77) calls Africa “the most multilingual region in the world, with more languages spoken per capita than anywhere else”. Consequently, many speakers typically do not only have one mother tongue but multiple, as shown in example (1) taken from ESBNaPI:

(1) Interviewer #00:04:04-3# OK. And ehm, so, which one, which Otji- OshiWambo language is your mother tongue?

Rua f24 Owambo #00:04:09-2# OK. My Mom is, I'm actually mixed. That's why I can not really tell you one. My Mom is Mbalantu, my Daddy is Ngadjera.

What is more, it is also possible that the status of the languages used by a speaker changes over time and different languages function as L1 or L2 or L3 (third language) at different times in the speaker’s life. Besides, some of the languages used in Africa are former colonial languages, such as English, French and Portuguese,...

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