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Gibson, Hannah, Githiora, Chege, Kanana Erastus, Fridah and Marten, Lutz (2023) 'Morphosyntactic retention and innovation in Sheng, a youth language or stylect of Kenya.' Studies in Language. (Forthcoming)

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This paper examines the morphosyntax of the East African Swahili-based urban youth language or stylect Sheng. Research on urban youth languages has often focused on these varieties as sites of rapid change and linguistic creativity. However, we show that many of the structural features which appear to make Sheng stand out when compared to (Standard) Swahili are widespread across East African Bantu languages. We examine nominal and verbal domains, as well as clausal syntax, and highlight areas in which Sheng exhibits features in common with its contact languages, as well as features which appear to reflect instances of independent innovation. The study shows that Sheng is not a “simplified” version of Swahili which deviates from the grammar of Swahili in a range of ad hoc ways. Rather, the language exhibits features of retention and contact-induced borrowing, as well as systematic changes which are reflective of variation across the Bantu languages.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: language contact, youth languages, morphosyntax, Sheng, Swahili
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics > Department of Linguistics
ISSN: 03784177
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2024 10:57
Related URLs: https://benjami ... .com/catalog/sl (Publisher URL)
Funders: Leverhulme Trust

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