Attitudes Toward Languages in Nairobi

by Fink, Teresa Kathleen

Abstract (Summary)
Claims of a shift in attitudes toward indigenous, national and European languages in Africa have raised concerns of drastic language shift and consequent language death. In addition to these languages, certain African urban centers in recent decades have seen the birth of youth hybrid languages, which function as in-group markers, as well as tools for negotiating between the conflicting demands of tradition and modernity. In Nairobi Kenya, the youth language is known as Sheng. Attitudes toward Sheng as well as toward the indigenous, national and European language in Kenya are studied through survey research, examining difference between age groups, genders and socioeconomic classes. The data confirms claims of attitude shift. While English is the language gaining the strongest allegiance among the youth, Kenyans of all ages recognize the growing importance of Sheng. In the light of the history of similar languages, the positive attitudes of the youth toward Sheng can be considered a symptom of the gradual death of the indigenous languages.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Scott Kiesling; Shelome Gooden; Chia-Hui Huang

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:06/07/2005

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