Volume 29, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238



This study addresses the question of how focused code-switching practices can become. It takes two complementary approaches to determine sorts and degrees of focusing, namely, a sequential analyst perspective, and a holistic perspective involving general sociolinguistic data and member’s perspectives. The case study presented involves a multilectal interaction between urban speakers of Oshiwambo, the main ethnic language of Namibia, where it cohabits with English and Afrikaans, the country’s lingua francas. The analysis reveals a range of structurally or qualitatively distinctive CS patterns involving Oshiwambo (dialects), English, and Afrikaans, used by all participants. Mostly alternational CS and specific types of backflagging display sequential regularity, while other CS patterns seem randomly distributed, at first sight an attribute of ‘free variation’. However, the examination of social indexicalities attached to the observed CS patterns shows that they all contribute to the performance of a multi-layered balancing act between urban and ethnic authenticities.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...



  1. Alvarez-Cacamo, Celsio
    1998 From ‘Switching Code’ to ‘Code-Switching’: Towards a Reconceptualisation of Communicative Codes. InCode-Switching in Conversation, ed. byPeter Auer, 29–50. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Agha, Asif
    2007Language and Social Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Auer, Peter
    1998 Introduction: Bilingual Conversation Revisited. InCode-switching in Conversation. Language, Interaction and Identity, ed. byPeter Auer, 1–24. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. 1999 From Codeswitching via Language Mixing to Fused Lects: Toward a Dynamic Typology of Bilingual Speech. The International Journal of Bilingualism3(4): 309–332. 10.1177/13670069990030040101
    https://doi.org/10.1177/13670069990030040101 [Google Scholar]
  5. 2007 Introduction. InStyle and Social Identities: Alternative Approaches to Linguistic Heterogeneity, ed. byPeter Auer. 1–24. Berlin: De Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Ausiku, Justus K.
    2010 An Evaluation of the Implementation of the Namibian Language-in-education Policy in the Upper Primary Phase in Oshana Region. MA dissertation. University of South Africa.
  7. Brock-Utne, Birgit, and Hall B. Holmarsdottir
    2001 The Choice of English as a Medium of Instruction and its Effects on the African Languages in Namibia. International Review of Education47(3–4): 293–322. 10.1023/A:1017905910662
    https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1017905910662 [Google Scholar]
  8. Bullock, Barbara E., and Almeida J. Toribio
    2009 Themes in the Study of Code-switching. InThe Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Code-switching, ed. byBarbara E. Bullock and Almeida J. Toribio, 1–18. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511576331.002
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511576331.002 [Google Scholar]
  9. Clyne, Michael
    2003Dynamics of Language Contact. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511606526
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511606526 [Google Scholar]
  10. Coupland, Nikolas
    2011 The Sociolinguistics of Style. The Cambridge Handbook of Sociolinguistics, 138–156. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511997068.013
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511997068.013 [Google Scholar]
  11. Deuchar, Margaret, Pieter C. Muysken, and Sung-Lan Wang
    2007 Structured Variation in Codeswitching: Towards an Empirically Based Typology of Bilingual Speech Corpora. The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism10(3): 298–340. 10.2167/beb445.0
    https://doi.org/10.2167/beb445.0 [Google Scholar]
  12. Deumert, Ana
    2013 Xhosa in Town (Revisited) – Space, Place and Language. International Journal of the Sociology of Language222 : 51–75.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Du Bois, John W.
    2007 The Stance Triangle. InStancetaking in Discourse. Subjectivity, Evaluation, Interaction, ed. byR. Engelbretson, 139–182. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 10.1075/pbns.164.07du
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.164.07du [Google Scholar]
  14. Eckert, Penelope, and John R. Rickford
    2001 Introduction. InStyle and Sociolinguistic Variation, ed. byPenelope Eckert and John R. Rickford, 1–20. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Elischer, Sebastian
    2013Political Parties in Africa: Ethnicity and Party Formation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139519755
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139519755 [Google Scholar]
  16. Fivaz, Derek
    1986A Reference grammar of Oshindonga (Wambo). Windhoek: The Academy.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Fourie, D. J.
    1991 Language Conflict in Owamboland. South African Journal of Linguistics9(3): 69–73. 10.1080/10118063.1991.9723865
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10118063.1991.9723865 [Google Scholar]
  18. Gumperz, John J.
    1982Discourse Strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511611834
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511611834 [Google Scholar]
  19. Harlech-Jones, Brian
    1990‘You taught me language’. The Implementation of English as a Medium of Instruction in Namibia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Haugh, Wendy
    2013 Against Apartheid: Nationalists, Cosmopolitans, and Language Ideology in Northern Namibia. Anthropological Quarterly86(1): 191–220. 10.1353/anq.2013.0004
    https://doi.org/10.1353/anq.2013.0004 [Google Scholar]
  21. Hernandez Campoy, Juan M.
    2016Sociolinguistic Styles. London: Wiley. 10.1002/9781118737606
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118737606 [Google Scholar]
  22. Ho, Simon, Tom Foulsham, and Alan Kingstone
    2015 Speaking and Listening with the Eyes: Gaze Signaling during Dyadic Interactions. PLoS One10(8). 10.1371/journal.pone.0136905
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0136905 [Google Scholar]
  23. Irvine, Judith T.
    2001 ‘Style’ as Distinctiveness: the Culture and Ideology of Linguistic Differentiation. InStyle and Sociolinguistic Variation, ed. byPenelope Eckert and John R. Rickford, 21–43. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Jaffe, Alexandra M.
    2007 Codeswitching and Stance: Issues in Interpretation. Journal of Language, Identity & Education6(1): 53–77.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. 2009 Introduction: The Sociolinguistics of Stance. InStance. Sociolinguistic Perspectives, ed. byAlexandra M. Jaffe, 3–28. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331646.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331646.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  26. Kiesling, Scott F.
    2009 Style as Stance: Stance as the Explanation for Patterns of Sociolinguistic Variation. InStance. Sociolinguistic Perspectives, ed. byAlexandra M. Jaffe, 171–194. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331646.003.0008
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331646.003.0008 [Google Scholar]
  27. Labov, William
    1972Sociolinguistic Patterns. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Lacoste, Véronique, Jakob Leimgruber, and Thiemo Breyer
    2014 Authenticity: A View from Inside and Outside Sociolinguistics. InIndexing Authenticity: Sociolinguistic Perspectives, ed. byVéronique Lacoste, Jakob Leimgruber and Thiemo Breyer, 1–13: Berlin: De Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Legère, Karsten, Richard Trewby, and Mariana van Graan
    2000The Implementation of the Namibian Language Policy in Education: Lower Primary Grades and Pre-service Teacher Education. Windhoek: Namibia Educational Research Association.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Li Wei
    1998 The ‘why‘ and ‘how‘ Question in the Analysis of Conversational Code-switching. InPeter Auer (ed.), Code-switching in Conversation. Language, Interaction and Identity, 156–179. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Maho, Jounie F.
    1998Few People, many Tongues. The Languages of Namibia. Cape Town: Gamsberg Macmillan.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Malan, J. S.
    1990 Aspekte van identiteitsvorming en – verandering onder die Wambo. South African Journal of Ethnology13(1): 1–10.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Meeuwis, Michael, and Jan Blommaert
    1998 A Monolectal View of Code-switching: Layered Code-switching among Zairians in Belgium. InCode-switching in conversation, ed. byPeter Auer, 76–100. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Mesthrie, Rajend, and Ellen Hurst
    2013 Slang Registers, Code-switching, and Restructured Urban Varieties in South Africa: An Analytic Overview of tsotsitaals with Special Reference to the Cape Town Variety. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Linguistics28(1): 103–30. 10.1075/jpcl.28.1.04mes
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jpcl.28.1.04mes [Google Scholar]
  35. Milroy, Lesley
    1980Language and social networks. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Muysken, Pieter
    2013 Language Contact Outcomes as the Result of Bilingual Optimization Strategies. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition16(4): 1–22. 10.1017/S1366728912000727
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728912000727 [Google Scholar]
  37. Myers-Scotton, Carol
    1993Social Motivations for Codeswitching. Evidence from Africa. Oxford: Clarendon.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Namibia Statistics Agency
    Namibia Statistics Agency 2003Namibia 2001. Population & Housing Census. Windhoek: National Planning Commission.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Namibia Statistics Agency
    Namibia Statistics Agency 2012Namibia 2011. Population & Housing Census Main Report. Windhoek: National Planning Commission.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Ochs, Elinor
    1992 Indexing gender. InRethinking Context: Language as an Interactive Phenomenon, ed. byAlessandro Duranti and Charles Goodwin, 335–358. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Pendleton, Wade, and Ndeyapo Nickanor
    2016The State of Food Insecurity in Windhoek, Namibia. AFSUN : Cape Town.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Pendleton, Wade
    1996Katutura: A Place where We Stay. Life in a Post-apartheid Township in Namibia. Athens: Ohio University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. 2002 Katutura and Namibia: The People, the Place, and the Fieldwork. InChronicling Cultures: Long Term Field Research in Anthropology, ed. byRobert Kemper and Anya P. Royce, 34–58. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Peyroux, Elisabeth
    2004Windhoek, capitale de la Namibie. Changement politique et recomposition des périphéries. Johannesburg: IFAS.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Pomerantz, Anita M.
    1984 Pursuing a Response. InStructures of Social Action : Studies in Conversation Analysis, ed. byJ. Maxwell Atkinson and John Heritage, 152–163. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Prinsloo, K. P., D. J. Stoker, A. M. Lubbe, A. E. Strydom, H. A. Engelbrecht and D. P. van Vuuren
    1982Aspekte van taal- en kommunikasie-aangeleenthede in SWA/Namibië. Volume13. Pretoria: Human Resources Research Council.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Rossano, Frederico
    2013 Gaze in Conversation. InHandbook of Conversation Analysis, ed. byJack Sidnell and Tanya Stivers. 308–329. London: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Sacks, Harvey
    1995Lectures on Conversation. London: Blackwell. 10.1002/9781444328301
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444328301 [Google Scholar]
  49. Schegloff, Emmanuel A.
    2007Sequence Organization in Interaction. Volume 1: A Primer in Conversation Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511791208
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511791208 [Google Scholar]
  50. Sharma, Devyani, and Ben Rampton
    2011 Lectal Focusing in Interaction: A new Methodology for the Study of Superdiverse Speech. Queen Mary’s OPAL22.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Sohn, C.
    2003 Changement gestionnaire et recompositions urbaines post-apartheid. La question foncière à Windhoek. Doctoral dissertation. Strasbourg: Université Louis Pasteur.
  52. Stals, Ernst, and Fritz Ponelis
    2001Só het Afrikaans na Namibië gekom: Afrikaans-Hollands in Namibië vóór die koloniale tyd. Windhoek: Gamsberg McMillan.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. Stell, Gerald
    2016 Current Trends in Linguistic Diversity in Post-apartheid Windhoek: A Qualitative Appraisal. Language matters47(3): 326–348. 10.1080/10228195.2016.1229360
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10228195.2016.1229360 [Google Scholar]
  54. Tirronen, Toivo E.
    1986Ndonga-English Dictionary. ELCIN: Windhoek.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Trudgill, Peter
    2008 Colonial Dialect Contact in the History of European Languages: On the Irrelevance of Identity in New-dialect Formation. Language in Society37: 241–280. 10.1017/S0047404508080287
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404508080287 [Google Scholar]
  56. Turvey, Basil H. C.
    1977Kwanyama-English Dictionary. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. UNIN
    UNIN 1981Toward a Language Policy for Namibia. Lusaka: United Nations Institute for Namibia.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. UNIN
    UNIN 1986Namibia. Perspectives for National Reconstruction and Development. Lusaka: United Nations Institute for Namibia.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Wiemann, John M., and Mark L. Kapp
    1975 Turn-taking in Conversations. Journal of Communication25(2) : 75–92. 10.1111/j.1460‑2466.1975.tb00582.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1975.tb00582.x [Google Scholar]
  60. Wolfaardt, Dolores
    2001 Facilitating Learning: An Investigation of the Language Policy of Namibian Schools. Doctoral Dissertation. Bellville: University of the Western Cape.

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): code-switching; language contact; Namibia; sociolinguistics; style
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error