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Linguistic Identity (re)Construction in Electoral Politics: The Case of 2005 Tanzanian Parliamentary Campaigns
Charles Bwenge
166-178 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This article explores linguistically-encoded identity (re)construction in the electoral discourse of the Tanzanian parliament (the Bunge). Based on sample audio- and video-recorded campaign rallies in the Bukoba district during the 2005 general election campaigns, the author demonstrates how linguistic and political cultures intersect in facilitating the projection of identities that matter in a given micro-level communicative setting. The Bunge is a national entity, but its constituencies more or less coincide with ethnic boundaries in which the educated elites enjoy enormous deference. Consequently, candidates and their surrogates tend to pepper Swahili, a national and designated language, with elements from both ethnic and English languages for the purposes of projecting their national, ethnic, and elitist identities. All three types of identity matter more in Tanzanian parliamentary politics than has been documented, and the existing societal linguistic culture serves this political aspect effectively.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference on African Linguistics: Linguistic Research and Languages in Africa
edited by Akinloye Ojo and Lioba Moshi
Table of contents
Printed edition: $270.00