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New Approaches to the Study of Linguistic Variability

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Edited By Markus Bieswanger and Amei Koll-Stobbe

The fourth volume in the series Language Competence and Language Awareness in Europe features contributions from various philologies in the young but rapidly growing research area of linguistic variability. The book grew out of a nucleus of papers presented at a North German Linguistics Workshop organised by the chair of English Linguistics, and developed into a collection of doctoral and post-doctoral research papers on variability in different domains of language use, variability as conceptual cum linguistic variability, and variability as studied in the mainstream research framework of corpus linguistics. It is the integrative presentation of thematic breadth and pluralistic research methodologies that inspired the title New Approaches to the Study of Linguistic Variability. The volume focuses on sociolinguistic studies of language use as social practice and variability of authentic language use.

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II. Diversity and hybridization as contact-induced variability

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II. Diversity and hybridization as contact-induced varia- bility The evolution of urban hybrid languages in Kenya: The case of Sheng and Engsh Lillian Kaviti Abstract Engsh and Sheng are forms of communication used mainly by urban youth who were born and bred in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. The terms “Sheng” and “Engsh” are blended forms derived from the compounds “Swahili-English” (Sheng) and “English-Swahili” (Engsh) respectively. The exact status of these forms of communication and whether they exist as distinct languages or varieties of the same language, slang forms, pidgins or mixed codes is controversial, especially since neither form manifests all of the typical reduction fea- tures found in established pidgin languages. Moreover, Engsh has often been categorized as a contextual variant of Sheng – a position which this discussion seeks to dispute using evidence drawn from the morpho-syntactic and phonological structure of the two forms of communica- tion. In this discussion, I consistently refer to the two forms as distinct urban hybrid lan- guages, with Sheng basing its grammatical structure on ‘mainland Kiswahili’ (‘Kiswahili cha Bara’), while Engsh manifests the morpho-syntax and phonology of the variety of English used in Kenya or ‘Kenyan English’ (a term whose use is controversial, considering the nu- merous socio-economic variables that influence the use of English in Kenya). Sheng developed in the early 1970’s and was initially used by the youth growing up in the low income (Eastlands) areas of Nairobi, while Engsh evolved around the same time mainly in the upper middle-class...

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