Tracing emergent Multilectal styles forms and functions of code-switching among Ovambos in urban Namibia

Gerald Stell

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This study addresses the question of how focused code-switching practices can become. It takes two complementary approaches to determine sorts and degrees of focusing, namely, a sequential analyst perspective, and a holistic perspective involving general sociolinguistic data and member’s perspectives. The case study presented involves a multilectal interaction between urban speakers of Oshiwambo, the main ethnic language of Namibia, where it cohabits with English and Afrikaans, the country’s lingua francas. The analysis reveals a range of structurally or qualitatively distinctive CS patterns involving Oshiwambo (dialects), English, and Afrikaans, used by all participants. Mostly alternational CS and specific types of backflagging display sequential regularity, while other CS patterns seem randomly distributed, at first sight an attribute of ‘free variation’. However, the examination of social indexicalities attached to the observed CS patterns shows that they all contribute to the performance of a multi-layered balancing act between urban and ethnic authenticities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-462
Number of pages27
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Code-switching
  • Language contact
  • Namibia
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Style

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language


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