The Tongue Between attempts to untangle a communicative puzzle pertaining
to a mixed code that has become a variety of choice within an
institutionalized diglossic policy prescribing a choice between two
officially recognized languages. Tanzanian national parliament (the Bunge)
presents a perfect communicative site for illustrating this phenomenon.
While the Bunge’s parliamentary proceedings language policy has
persistently remained ‘Swahili or English’, the actual communicative
interactions have persistently been dominated by the alternation between a
‘standard’ form and a ‘mixed’ form of Swahili, respectively referred to
here as standard Swahili (SS) and elite Swahili (ES).
Drawing on the language use as a social act[ion] perspective, the book
makes two major claims: first, ES is a distinct variety in its own right
and second, its persistent occurrence in the Bunge’s discourse is both
pragmatically and symbolically motivated – thus manifesting as a site where
the society’s linguistic culture is clearly articulated and represented
alongside demonstrating a communicative innovation and dynamics, but also
highly contested trend. In this regard, historical and synchronic analysis
is considered essential for a better understanding of the phenomenon. This
book provides insightful clues for scholars and students in language
policy, language mixing, identity construction, and political discourse in
an African setting.
Charles Bwenge is an Assistant Professor of African sociolinguistics at the
University of Florida. He earned his PhD from the University of Virginia.
His research focuses on institutional communicative interactions
particularly in political and commercial advertisement discourses in the
Swahili-speaking east African region. His most recent published articles
include “Language choice in Dar-es-Salaam’s billboards (a chapter in Fiona
Mc Laughlin, ed. 2009. The languages of urban Africa. London) and
“Codeswitching in Tanzanian parliamentary discourse: a communicative
innovation” (Issues in Political Discourse Analysis, Vol. 2(1).