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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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4 English(es) in Namibia


The aim of this chapter is to illustrate the background of the English language in Namibia, including the country’s history, the linguistic situation, and LPLP from its beginnings until today, focusing on the development of English as the sole official language in Namibia and its implementation in education. The chapter concludes with a summary.

4.1 The History of Namibia

In the following, the relevant history of Namibia is depicted. The section is divided into five parts, according to historic periods, i.e. pre-colonial times until 1884/5, German colonial rule from 1884/85 until 1915, South African occupation from 1920 until the 1970s, the liberation struggle of the 1970s and 1980s, and post-Independence times, that is after 1990 until 2015, the time of data collection.

4.1.1 Pre-colonial Times

The known history of the geographical location that is called Namibia today begins around 25,000 BC when the first inhabitants of southern Africa, the San, lived there. They were followed by the Namas around 2,000 years ago and then by the Damaras in the ninth century. The Hereros and Owambos joined in the sixteenth or seventeenth century; the former in the east and center, the latter in the north of present-day Namibia. The accounts of the origins of the Caprivian/Zambezi and Kavango communities remain contradictory. It can be assumed that they settled in the eighteenth century in what is now Namibia (Knappert 1981: 18–20, 128; Fourie 1997: 30; Webb 2002: 71 f...

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