Urban Youth Style or Emergent Urban Vernacular? The Rise of Namibia's Kasietaal

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1 Citation (Scopus)


This study discusses Kasietaal, a continuum of language practices associated with youth in the low-income areas of Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. To what extent does Kasietaal fit the description of an urban youth speech style or of a new lingua franca? To answer this question, this study discusses sociolinguistic perceptions of younger and older residents of Katutura, Windhoek's historically Black neighbourhood. It also uses linguistic materials produced by a Kasietaal performance elicited from a subset of the younger informants. The data suggest that Kasietaal is a post-independence phenomenon, with a manipulated lexicon of diverse origins as its most salient feature. But Kasietaal is not just a “floating lexicon” like South Africa's Tsotsitaal: It is tied to an Afrikaans variety with low-status lingua franca functions, with which it is likely to be co-evolving for want of other linguistic options for projecting urban inter-ethnic solidarity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-67
Number of pages19
JournalLanguage Matters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2020


  • Afrikaans
  • Kasietaal
  • language contact
  • Namibia
  • Tsotsitaal
  • youth language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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