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Pragmatics of Namibian English (PraNamE)


About PraNamE

The PraNamE project introduces variational pragmatics into the wider field of World Englishes. The project is focused on English in Namibia and is aimed at identifying a pragmatic profile of Namibian English, i.e. at establishing variety-specific ways of using English in communication in a range of social contexts. For this purpose, a selection of pragmatic phenomena are analysed, which include discourse markers such as question tags, speech acts such as requests, apologies and responses to thanks, and interactional patterns and discourse genres such as small talk and service encounters. Methods employed are production questionnaires, role play, interviews, focus group discussions, elicited metadiscourse, and media communication.

PraNamE is a collaborative research project by Bonn Applied Linguistics and Professor Anne Schröder's team at the University of Bielefeld.

English in Namibia

Multiethnic Namibia is a particularly interesting case. After achieving independence in 1990, English was introduced as the only official language of the country, even though Namibia had never been a British colony and there was no tradition of using English. German or Afrikaans would have been more natural choices, if none of the indigenous languages was to be made an official language to avoid interethnic tensions, as Namibia had been a German colony (1884-1915) and then ruled by South Africa until independence. Since 1990, English is used in secondary and tertiary education, and also in many strands of public life where it competes, however, with Afrikaans and German. It is therefore interesting to see how Namibians use English and to what degrees social groups master the language. The PraNamE project thus also contributes to the ongoing debate about the respective status of second and foreign language varieties in postcolonial societies in Africa and elsewhere.

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