Sheng
Title Details

236 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

14 b/w. 12 line. Illustrations

Imprint: James Currey

Sheng

Rise of a Kenyan Swahili Vernacular

by Chege Githiora

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  • Contents
  • Author
  • Reviews
Of interest to linguists, artists, ma-youth, scholars of urban studies, educationalists, policy makers and language planners who are grappling with the challenges of multilingualism and language of education in Kenya.
The city of Nairobi is a rich context for the study of sociolinguistic phenomena. The coexistence of speakers of many different languages, further differentiated by socio-economic status, age and ethnicity provide conditions for the development of a mixed code such as Sheng, an urban variety of Kenyan Swahili which has morphed from a "youth language" into a vernacular of wider use. Sheng is a unique phenomenon in the study of linguistic change and innovation in an African context, a reflection of the ethnolinguistic diversity of Kenya, and language asymmetry created by socio-economic disparities. It also provides a window into understanding the processes of urban multilingualism, within the specific space structuring of Nairobi city.

This book is a detailed account of the rise and development of Sheng, its linguistic structure, social functions, and possible future directions. The author's analysis ofits presence in newspapers, TV, radio and online, makes it clear that Sheng functions as a particularly useful lens through which to explore contemporary Kenya.
Preface
Introduction
Sheng as Kenyan Swahili
An Overview of Language in Kenya: Power vs Solidarity
Nairobi: A Linguistic Mosaic and Crucible of Sheng
'Kenyan Swahili': Complex and Multifaceted
Some Features of Sheng
Expanded Domains and Global Influences
Sheng in Practice
Conclusion: The Rise of a Swahili Vernacular
Appendix
Sheng Glossary

Chege Githiora is Professor of Linguistics, African Languages and Literatures at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and is author of Afro-Mexicans: Discourse of race and identity in the African Diaspora.

"[A] major contribution to the study of (urban) multilingualism, the dynamic nature of language, and African oral narratives. The book will be of interest and immense utility to linguists, researchers, policy makers, students and others interested in historical linguistics, language contact and change, language policy in education, urban studies, and youth identity and culture, as well as serve as an invaluable collection of sociocultural information about Nairobi, and Kenya in general." AFRICAN STUDIES QUARTERLY
"The linguist will find much of interest in the book's middle, more technical chapters - and Githiora keeps even the non-linguist on board with multiple clearly explained examples and lucid prose throughout. .Githiora's study emphasizes the undeniability of Sheng: the language is here to stay, and it is time that policymakers, educators, and commentators catch up to that reality." CANADIAN JOURNAL OF AFRICAN STUDIES / REVUE CANADIENNE DES ÉTUDES AFRICAINES
"The one definitive thing about the book is that Githiora attempts to demystify the language by emphasising its 'Swahiliness'. [.] Kenyan politicians and policymakers at the Ministry of Education should read Githiora's Sheng." DAILY NATION
"'Sheng uses Kiswahili grammar and the lexicon of African and other languages, and for this reason Professor Githiora has identified Sheng as a variety of Kiswahili which has affected the teaching of Standard English, Kiswahili and other languages in East Africa, but especially in Kenya. This is the first book devoted wholly to various aspects of Sheng and it will greatly help the reader to understand this Kenyan linguistic phenomenon.' -" IRERI MBAABU, Professor of Kiswahili and Linguistics, Kenyatta University.
"'...a book length study of Sheng is overdue, and it is refreshing to see that a respected scholar and linguist, as the author is widely regarded to be, has decided to undertake this task. Chege Githiora's book is a very important addition to the literature on the linguistic construction of youth identities, especially under conditions of cultural mobility ... of interest to a wide range of scholars and students.' -" ALAMIN MAZRUI, Professor of Sociolinguistics and Cultural Studies at Rutgers University
"'How to create national unity in a multilingual postcolonial state with two colonially inherited standard languages? Githiora's important book draws a compelling picture of Sheng, through which Kenyans agentively appropriate English and Standard Swahili into a fluid register that also integrates their multilingual repertoires, creating the real national language of this East African country.' - FRIEDERIKE LUPKE, Professor of Language Documentation and Description, University of London" SOAS

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Title Details

236 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

14 b/w. 12 line. Illustrations

Imprint: James Currey