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Meanings of money: national identity and the semantics of currencies in Zambia and Tanzania

Marten, Lutz and Kula, Nancy C. (2008) 'Meanings of money: national identity and the semantics of currencies in Zambia and Tanzania.' Journal of African Cultural Studies, 20 (2). pp. 183-199.

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Abstract

In addition to practical, pragmatic functions, both money and language fulfil symbolic functions. The designation, design and language use of currencies, like choices about language policies and national languages carry symbolic weight and reflect different conceptions of national identity. In independent Africa, different approaches to language policy and currency terms are found, and the interaction between the two often reflects specific historic-political circumstances and the public and official portrayal of nationhood. Tracing language and currency choices in Zambia and Tanzania shows that the situations in the two countries stand in an inverse symmetrical relation: In Zambia, language choice was primarily pragmatic, and currency terms carry high symbolic function. In contrast, in Tanzania, the choice of Swahili as national language was highly symbolic, while the choice of currency terms was pragmatic. Although the relations between language and currency terms identified in the case studies are specific to Zambia and Tanzania, the study shows how symbolic functions of money and language are embedded in discourses about national identity more generally.

Item Type: Articles
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa
Regional Centres > Centre of African Studies
Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of Linguistics
ISSN: 13696815
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): 10.1080/13696810802522361
Depositing User: Lutz Marten
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2009 13:53
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/7193

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