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Fellow Seminar

16 May 2019

Dr. Adeiza Isiaka will present his research proposal on the topic: "Metrolanguages and Ethnicities: Rethinking Africa's Urban Languages" on 16 May 2019 (Thursday) at 16:30h at CAS conference hall.


Urban language practices are unique to their cities of birth - and innately sociological, depending on their formative processes. This thinking has inspired the conceptualizations of these practices in Africa's urban milieu as mainly socio-linguistic and political. For instance, while the structural forms of urban-related languages such as Camfranglais, in Yaoundé, Kindoubil or Kiyankee, in Kinshasa Sheng in Nairobi, Tsotsitaal in Johannesburg are recently being examined, their political latency is also being discussed. Framed by language-sociology and ethnography, this project expands on these scopes enquiry, drawing on a host of data from Nigeria. Looking at the ways in which the forms of use coincide with emancipatory goals, I observe a strong mix of glocal reconstructions and the constitutive core of rural-urban interactions in the practices.

Also, against the backdrop of multiple languages in Africa is the categorization of urban language practices as hybrid or mixilingual codes. While these fit into preconceived ideas about how speakers deploy the range of linguistic resources available to them, the current data invites us to see these practices as metrolingual trends. Metrolingualism involves the reconstitution of fixed and fluid ownership of linguistic forms, i.e., the queering of structural orthodoxies and spatial borders within the metrolingual space. Rather than languages as codes, the focus is on the socio-pragmatic structures that emerge from contexts of communication. The analyzed corpora consist of ludic possibilities and heteroglossic continuum, achieved by means of re-lexification, neologisms and glossing - induced, presumably, by a re-assertion of authentic pre-colonial identity and covert resistance to imperial codes. I suggest that such mesh of practices where fluidness and fixedness, conservatism and liberalism cohabit and complement each other offers a formative prospect of urban ethnicity (metro-ethnicity) in Africa's multiethnic spaces, and a basis for rethinking the prevailing notions of linguistic plurality or discreteness in African urban languages.

Dr Isiaka is a lecturer/speech scientist in the Department of English Studies at Adekunle Ajasin University, Nigeria. He currently coordinates a cluster of research projects in phonetic science and corpus linguistics - after his doctoral study at Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany. His research interests straddle areas in: cross-phonology of languages, phonetic documentation of non-pathologic practices in speech, and the nexus between language, migration and social change.

He is a member of the International Communication Association (ICA), and was a recipient of the prestigious Viligst PhD Scholarship while at Chemnitz. He was a Visiting Scholar to Tulane University in New Orleans (USA) on a DAAD/InProTUC programme in 2015, and has won many grants and awards including the DAAD/STIBET fund for specially engaged guest researchers in Germany and the University of Cape Town Programme for Enhancement of Research Capacity (UCT/PERC) grant for collaborative research (2013 - 2016).



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