Intergroup dynamics and variation in postcolonial ESL varieties: A preliminary view of Namibian English vowel systems

Gerald Stell, Robert Fuchs

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


L1 background is often described as the main factor accounting for variation in postcolonial ESL varieties. However, recent studies (e.g. Mesthrie 2009, 2017) suggest that variation patterns in ESL varieties can in some cases also be linked to identity factors rooted in local patterns of intergroup relations. This study examines the interrelation between L1 background and such identity factors in the phonetic patterns found in the English varieties spoken in Namibia. The data consist of a corpus of careful style elicited via sociolinguistic interviews from an ethnically stratified sample of L2 English speaking Namibian students with Afrikaans, Bantu languages (Oshiwambo and Otjiherero), and Khoekhoeghowab as L1s. Individual speakers tend to be related in their phonetic behaviors if they share the same L1. However, some features cannot be directly attributed to L1 background, so their distribution is best read against the background of Namibian inter-ethnic relations and ethnolinguistic vitality differentials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-168
Number of pages26
JournalEnglish World-Wide
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2019


  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Language contact
  • Namibia
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Sociophonetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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