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Title:Language variation and change: A case study of Shaba Swahili
Author(s):Kapanga, Mwamba Tshishiku
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bokamba, Eyamba G.
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Abstract:Swahili has generally been perceived as a homogenous entity whose norms are reflected in the variety spoken on the coast of East Africa. Any deviations from these norms are perceived as trademark of colloquialism, corruption, deterioration and/or sub-standardness. In the Zairian province of Shaba, the variety of Swahili used is characterized by a multiplicity of deviations at all grammatical levels. This variety, commonly known as Shaba Swahili (ShS), has been considered by many as a colloquial, corrupt, deteriorated, and sub-standard or pidgin variety of East African Swahili (EAS).
This dissertation provides an analysis of ShS, one of the very few non-western languages classified as pidgin/creole (P/C). It shows that although ShS fulfills some of the criteria used for the classification of P/C, it is not a P/C. Structural simplification is not a property of P/C only. Rather it is the property of all languages found in contact situations. All the processes of language contact will be evaluated to sort out a new set of criteria for language categorization in contact situations.
This study attempts to demonstrate that ShS is a "meaning system" that reflects the linguistic and socio-cultural context proper to new context of use. The multilingual context of Shaba has created new norms, which are nativized according to the linguistic, social, and cultural context of Shaba. Thus, what has generally been regarded as an idiosyncratic variety of Swahili is a real language with its own rules and norms that are distinct from those of EAS.
While linguistic variation is used to show the extent to which people adhere to the norms of their vernacular culture, this adherence is not automatic given the presence of members of one's close-knit social network. Though social variables can determine a speaker's linguistic behavior, they are each subconsciously assigned hierarchical index markings of vitality. The social variables with the highest indexation marking can over-rule the constraints of linguistic behavior dictated by formalaty or informality during speech. Members of any community are aware of this indexation marking and are cognizant of the fact that this indexation varies with the context of situation. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Kapanga, Mwamba Tshishiku
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9136632
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9136632

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