Indigenization in a downgraded continuum: Ideologies behind phonetic variation in Namibian Afrikaans

Gerald Stell

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This study generally looks at indigenization in languages historically introduced and promoted by colonial regimes. The case study that it presents involves Namibia, a Subsaharan African country formerly administered by South Africa, where Afrikaans was the dominant official language before being replaced by English upon independence. Afrikaans in Namibia still functions as an informal urban lingua franca while being spoken as a native language by substantial White and Coloured minorities. To what extent does the downranking of Afrikaans in Namibia co-occur with divergence from standard models historically located in South Africa? To answer this question, the study identifies variation patterns in Namibian Afrikaans phonetic data elicited from ethnically diverse young urban informants and links these patterns with perceptions and language ideologies. The phonetic data reveal divergence between Whites and Non-Whites and some convergence among Black L2 Afrikaans-speakers with Coloured varieties, while suggesting that a distinctive Black variety is emerging. The observed trends generally reflect perceived ethnoracial distinctions and segregation. They must be read against the background of shifting inter-group power relations and sociolinguistic prestige norms in independent Namibia, as well as of emergent ethnically inclusive Black urban identities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-252
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of the Sociology of Language
Issue number269
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • Afrikaans
  • inter-group relations
  • language contact
  • Namibia
  • socio-phonetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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