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Bookmark and Share Paper 2577

Language Perceptions and Identity among Kenyan Speakers
Leonard Muaka
217-230 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


The state of African indigenous languages has always generated different viewpoints among scholars and ordinary people. While some scholars point out that the African continent still experiences stable multilingualism and there is no need for alarm (e.g., Bokamba 2008; Mufwene 2002, 2008), others, such as Nettle and Romaine (2001), claim that Africa has already lost 54 languages with another 116 in the process of extinction. However, Nettle and Romaine (2001) and Djité (2008), among others, note also that these figures are not based on empirical data. This unconfirmed information about the linguistic situation in Africa is a clear indication that the region remains understudied, with much of the reporting being anecdotal. To contribute to this research pursuit and to offer insights based on empirical data from Kenyan youths, this paper examines the relationship between the speakers' perceptions about their linguistic repertoires and their actual language practices. What results from this relationship is a clear indication of how their language identities are continually constructed to reflect the contestation that exists between local and dominant ideologies.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference on African Linguistics: African Languages and Linguistics Today
edited by Eyamba G. Bokamba, Ryan K. Shosted, and Bezza Tesfaw Ayalew
Table of contents
Printed edition: $290.00