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Tracing Language Movement in Africa$
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Ericka A. Albaugh and Kathryn M. de Luna

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190657543

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190657543.001.0001

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The Invisible Niche of AUYL

The Invisible Niche of AUYL

(p.277) Chapter 13 The Invisible Niche of AUYL
Tracing Language Movement in Africa

Philip W. Rudd

Oxford University Press

In African cities, postcolonial ambiguity and contradiction bombard speakers, who hybridize traditional values with new urban identities and successfully bridge the old to the new with African Urban Youth Language (AUYL), a term inclusive of argot, slang, and register usage. Sheng, the AUYL from Nairobi, Kenya, exemplifies the metaphorical reversal of the old colonial order, symbolizing an invisible niche binding speakers neither to the traditional ethnic role nor to the old colonial empire and providing a sense of cosmopolitanism. African youth construct this new and modern identity, but the elites, seeing only fragmented nonstandard usage, treat the AUYL as illegitimate in order to render it nonexistent. This sociocultural chapter explores grammatical tendencies and lexical manipulations to disclose how AUYL is a “stylistic practice” (Eckert 2008) or bricolage (Hebdige 1979) that empowers speakers to construct a more complex, and meaningful, postcolonial social world.

Keywords:   antilanguage, AUYL, glocalization, informal economy, invisible niche, language ideology, Sheng

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