When analyzed in multilingual contexts, English is often treated as an entity that is separable from its linguistic environment. It is often the case, however, that multilinguals use English in hybrid and transcultural ways. This book explores how multilingual East Africans make use of English as a local resource in their everyday practices by examining a range of domains, including workplace conversation, beauty pageants, hip hop and advertising. Drawing on the Bakhtinian concept of multivocality, the author uses discourse analysis and ethnographic approaches to demonstrate the range of linguistic and cultural hybridity found across these domains, and to consider the constraints on hybridity in each context. By focusing on the cultural and linguistic bricolage in which English is often found, the book illustrates how multilinguals respond to the tension between local identification and dominant conceptualizations of English as a language for global communication.
Hitherto, this field of scholarship has been dominated by the research of English as an ‘international language’ or ‘global language’ or ‘world language’. But in this book, Christina Higgins jettisons that norm and brings a daring yet refreshing new voice to the debate by focusing on the appropriation of English as a local language and mapping the politics of its co-existence with indigenous languages in Kenya and Tanzania. She has developed a framework that places multilingual practices at the theoretical centre while responding brilliantly to the growing relevance of social theory in sociolinguistics.
Multilingual Matters (July 8, 2009)