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South Africa




Adamo, Grace Ebunlola (2007). Nigerian English. Is it – can it be – part of a quest for cultural expression and identity? English today 89, Vol. 23 [1]. 42-47.

Adamo’s article tries to sketch how much English has influenced the Nigerian culture and how much this culture has shaped the form of English spoken in Nigeria today. The essay is well structured: Adamo first gives a short overview of the historical development of standard British English, New Englishes in general, and Nigerian English in particular. Then he analyses some examples of the cultural influence at the lexico-semantic level. The final part of her essay deals with the question of the role of the English language in Nigeria and for its cultural identity. Adamo finishes with the appeal that Nigerian English should be explicitly defined and constitutionalized as a national language of Nigeria.
The text is easily accessible and requires only the knowledge of some basic linguistic terms.
(Review by Astrid Burgbacher)

[English Seminar library: ZET 23]

Anchimbe, Eric (2006). Local Meaning in the English of West Africa. ELT isn’t always as straightforward as one might suppose. English Today 86, Vol. 22 [2]. 50-54.

Addressing ESL teachers in West Africa, Anchimbe’s article focuses on local semantic differences in West African English as compared to British English. The article does not only expound problems in language teaching and learning for both non-African teachers and West African learners of BE, but also presents a range of semantic changes of English words and their use in West Africa. Anchimbe thus provides a basic insight into important differences in meaning between BE and West African English. Moreover, the text contains many examples and a short glossary of localized terms.
The article is well structured and clearly written and thus easily accessible. It requires the knowledge of basic linguistic terms and abbreviations.
(Review by Astrid Burgbacher)

[English Seminar library: ZET 22]

Green, Lisa (2002). African American English. A linguistic Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lisa Green’s textbook gives a good, clearly organized introduction to grammatical uses of contemporary African American English as it is spoken in the US. It analyses patterns in sentence structure, the sound system, word formation and word use. Green’s aim is to show that AAE is not a compilation of random deviations from Standard English but a rule-governed system. Beside sections on mere grammatical issues, the introduction also examines the use of AAE in various social contexts, e.g. in secular and religious spheres, literature and media. Each chapter contains a short summary at the end and is accompanied by exercises.
Green’s book is mostly easily accessible and requires only the knowledge of basic linguistic terms.
(Review by Astrid Burgbacher)

[English Seminar library: S BR Z02003]

Hibbert, Liesel (2002). English in South Africa: Parallels with African American vernacular English. A comparison between Black English usage in South Africa and the United States. English Today 69, Vol. 18 [1]. 31-36.

In her article, Hibbert firstly distinguishes Black South African English (BSAfE) from ‘white’ South African English (SAfE) and argues that BSAfE has gained a considerable status and usage in various high status domains, such as politics, education, the media etc. She then compares the sociolinguistic status of BSAfE with that of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) in the US and comes to the conclusion that the latter is still regarded as a dialect used by low status minority groups.
The article is clearly written and well structured, thus easily accessible. It requires basic linguistic background knowledge.
(Review by Astrid Burgbacher)

[English Seminar library: ZET 18]

Kavanagh, Kathryn; Mantzel, Dorothea; van Niekerk, Tim; Wolvaardt, Jill; Wright, Madeleine (eds.) (2002). South African Concise Oxford Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The South African Concise Oxford Dictionary is a modern dictionary designed for “speakers of English, ideal for families, students and professionals”. It includes both words which have been used in South African English for over a hundred years and more recent adoptions, whose usage in the language is less firmly established. Thus, it is a comprehensive guide to everyday South African English, specialist technical, scientific, literary and historical vocabulary and new words.
The dictionary contains information on language usage, a pronunciation guide to words that commonly cause uncertainty, notes on the origins of words and a list of South African institutions and organizations and their abbreviations.
The dictionary is written in clear language and is generally well designed, hence easily accessible. It requires no linguistic background knowledge.
(Review by Astrid Burgbacher)

[We hope that this book is available in our library soon. In the meantime, please use the inter-library loan system (Fernleihe).]

Lanehart, Sonjy L. (ed.) (2001). Sociocultural and Historical Contexts of African American English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

This book approaches AAE from multidisciplinary perspectives (namely socially, culturally, historically and educationally) by exploring its relationship to other varieties of English, examining the use of AAE in the African American Community and analysing its use in the educational sector. It also seeks to define the term “AAE”. The aim of the studies is to help readers to understand language use in the African American Community better.
As a special feature, the book contains a detailed index and extensive references. The texts are generally easily accessible. However, some chapters require some linguistic background knowledge.
(Review by Astrid Burgbacher)

[We hope that this book is available in our library soon. In the meantime, please use the inter-library loan system (Fernleihe).]

Lucko, Peter; Lohar, Peter; Wolf, Hans-Georg (eds.) (2003). Studies in African Varieties of English. Frankfurt a. M.: Lang.

This collection unites ten articles, which (except for the last one) discuss various aspects of varieties of English spoken in Africa, mostly West Africa. Seven papers focus on either Nigeria or Cameroon. Two of the papers provide information on varieties of English that have rarely been explored so far (English in the Republic of Gambia and English in Sudan). The final paper broaches positive and negative aspects of the spread and influence of English on the African continent and native African languages.
The style is slightly more difficult than the other sources recommended. Some of the texts rewquire more than just basic linguistic knowledge.
(Review by Astrid Burgbacher)

[We hope that this book is available in our library soon. In the meantime, please use the inter-library loan system (Fernleihe).]

McArthur, Tom (2003). Africa. Oxford Guide to World English. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 259-96.

This Oxford Guide gives a handy but still detailed introduction to key characteristics of the various forms of English used worldwide. In seven chapters it covers not only the main regional varieties organized by continents, but also the more significant dialects and local variations within each variety. Like every other section in the guide, the one on African English has an introduction that lays out the history, geopolitics and cultural qualities of the varieties spoken in Africa. Notes on the characteristic vocabulary, pronunciation and syntax follow.
The texts are written in a clear style and thus easily accessible. Only basic linguistic background knowledge is required if at all.
(Review by Astrid Burgbacher)

[We hope that this book is available in our library soon. In the meantime, please use the inter-library loan system (Fernleihe).]

Schmied, Josef J. (1991). English in Africa. An introduction. London and New York: Longman.

Schmied’s book covers all major aspects of the history and development of English on the African continent and tries to demonstrate how closely these aspects are intertwined. It therefore provides a good general framework for studies of English in Africa. The nine chapters of the book include themes as the colonial inheritance, the sociolinguistic situation and attitudes towards English, linguistic features, language policy and the spread of English in different areas, such as literature and education. The last chapter reflects technical and ethical problems and perspectives of empirical language research in Africa as a third world country.
As a special feature of the book, maps and figures on the spread and the linguistic features of English in Africa, as well as a detailed bibliography, are included.
The book is written in clear, largely non-technical style and requires only basic linguistic background knowledge.
(Review by Astrid Burgbacher)

[We hope that this book is available in our library soon. In the meantime, please use the inter-library loan system (Fernleihe).]

Silva, Penny (ed.) (1996). A Dictionary of South African English on Historical Principles. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The dictionary documents the English language as it has developed within all of the country’s communities. Coverage extends from the sixteenth century up to the present day, providing information about South African history as well as revealing the unique character of the country’s multilingual and multicultural society. The record covers all forms of the written word, historical and contemporary, as well as the spoken word of broadcasting and everyday conversation.
The dictionary is easily accessible and does not require any linguistic background knowledge.
(Review by Astrid Burgbacher)

[We hope that this book is available in our library soon. In the meantime, please use the inter-library loan system (Fernleihe).]


Hickey, Raymond. English in Africa. Varieties of English. http://www.uni-due.de/SVE/VARS_Varieties.htm (04.08.2007)

This comprehensive website is intended as a resource for linguistics students at various levels, who are concerned with different forms of English throughout the world. It contains multifarious information sections on varieties of English, ranging from historical developments to linguistic and sociolinguistic matters. The material is well organised into sections, each of which corresponds to a menu on the top row of the desktop. Each menu leads to a series of sub-menus, which contain texts explaining various aspects of the menu’s topic. The section on Africa contains information on English as it is spoken in West-Africa, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, and East Africa, as well as an overview on other languages spoken on the continent. The information is, however, very general and focuses rather on the historical and regional spreading of English than on linguistic features.
The website contains a glossary, a detailed bibliography and maps on the spreading of different forms of English, as well as a good link list. Most of the website’s sections do not require any linguistic background knowledge, others require some.
(Review by Astrid Burgbacher)

African American English. Varieties of English. http://www.ic.arizona.edu/~lsp/ (03.08.2007)

This website is part of the Language Samples Project (LSP) of the Anthropology Department of the University of Arizona. The project’s goal is to facilitate the teaching of sounds and sound structures in varieties of English; therefore it focuses on the phonetics and the phonology of different forms of English. Beside general introductions to phonetics, phonology and the International Phonetic Alphabet, the website contains basic information on different varieties of English, such as African-American, American-Indian, Canadian, British, Chicano, Northeast-American and Southern States English. There is a link to exercises which, however, does not work.
The website has a simple structure and is generally easily accessible. Some sections require the knowledge of basic linguistic terms and concepts.
(Review by Astrid Burgbacher)

English in West Africa. A research Projekt of the Institute of English and American Studies of the Humboldt University Berlin. http://www2.hu-berlin.de/angl/WAfr/wafr.html (04.08.2007)

This research project wants to collect and describe lexical peculiarities and specific phonetic and phonological features of the English spoken in the six Anglophone West African countries Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria. The Immediate objective is the compilation of the first comprehensive and comparative dictionary of the respective varieties. On this website, the project offers basic information on the African countries mentioned above, as well as the varieties of English spoken there. The excerpts are all taken from the project’s publication: Wolf, Hans-Georg (2001). English in Cameroon (Contributions to the Sociology of Language 85). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
The texts are easily accessible; the introductions require some linguistic background knowledge, however. There are speech examples to listen to of Gambian, Sierra Leonean, Liberian, Ghanaian, Cameroon and Nigerian English contained in the website.
(Review by Astrid Burgbacher)



International Association for World Englishes (IAWE)


International Corpus of English Website

International Dialects of English Archive

English Linguistics



© Christiane Meierkord
and individual reviewers