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Auteur: Sarah BUSCHFELD

Co-Auteur(s): Alexander KAUTZSCH, University of Regensburg, Germany

English in Namibia or Namibian English? - Evidence from a survey on identity constructions and language attitudes and use

Abstract/Résumé: Since the early 1980s, research into World Englishes has investigated a multitude of Englishes spoken around the globe as native or second languages. Even though the 1990 constitution of an independent Namibia stipulated English as only official language of the otherwise multilingual country (The Constitution of Namibia 1990, Art. 3 Language), a systematic and comprehensive investigation of status, functions and characteristics of English in Namibia has so far been largely neglected by World Englishes research. The present paper seeks to address this research gap and investigates the de facto role of English in Namibia. Building on a pilot study (Buschfeld & Kautzsch, in prep.), we report on findings from a survey on linguistic and cultural identity as well as on language attitudes and use, comparing the role and functions of English to the role and functions of Afrikaans and German as well as to the use of the multitude of native languages spoken in the country. The data under investigation come from 100 informants of different ethnic origin, who were asked to fill in a three-part questionnaire inquiring into language use in the domains of private and public life, questions of linguistic and cultural identity, as well as their attitudes towards the different languages spoken in Namibia. The overall results reveal that the 1990 declaration of independence can be considered as linguistic turn from which English has been undergoing a change from EFL to ESL and is currently taking over lingua franca status from Afrikaans. This finding is interpreted as evidence that present-day Namibian English is currently developing variety status and has entered the process of structural nativization and by this an early phase 3 of Schneider's (2007) Dynamic Model. Above that, the paper at hand discusses what these findings reveal for the World Englishes research paradigm, whose approaches and models have so far mainly considered postcolonial contexts as relevant for investigation. In this vein, they have largely left aside cases traditionally classified as EFL but who in fact seem to have experienced an increased spread of bilingualism in recent history of globalization without showing direct historical ties to the British Empire. References: Buschfeld, S. & Kautzsch, A. In prep. "English in Namibia: A first approach". Schneider, E.W. 2007. Postcolonial English. Varieties Around the World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. The Constitution of The Republic of Namibia. 1990. World Intellectual Property Organization Resources. 2010. (accessed 2012-03-28).