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Namibian Kiche Duits: The Making (and Decline) of a Neo-African Language

  • Ana Deumert (a1)

This paper provides the first overview of the history, sociolinguistics, and structures of Namibian Kiche Duits (lit. “kitchen German”), which is today a dying contact variety. The analysis draws on archival records, colonial publications, and memoirs, as well as over 120 sociolinguistic interviews conducted in 2000. Early varieties of Namibian Kiche Duits emerged from 1900 under German colonial rule. The language was used primarily for inter-ethnic communication within the work context. However, speakers also “crossed” playfully into Kiche Duits in a number of within-group speech genres (competition games, scolding, banter, etc.), thus appropriating the colonial language—alongside cultural borrowings (Truppenspieler, “traditional” dress)—for new in-group practices. These within-group uses contributed to the linguistic stabilization of the language as well as the formation of new (post-)colonial (neo-African) identities.*

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Corresponding author
Department of English Language and Literature, Linguistics Section, University of Cape Town, 7701 Rondebosch, South Africa, []
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