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.
- Professor Tope Omoniyi, Roehampton University, UK
The author clearly has an extensive knowledge of multilingual practices around the world. Her very detailed information about the sociolinguistics of mixed languages in Tanzania and Kenya is particularly impressive.
- English World-Wide 32:1, 2011
- Alfred Buregeya, University of Nairobi
Christina Higgins is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Second Language Studies, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, Honolulu, USA. Her main areas of interest are the sociopolitics of English as a global language and the sociolinguistics of multilingual societies. She has focused her research in Kenya and Tanzania, where she has investigated how multilingual individuals use English alongside their other languages to produce local and global identifications across domains such as workplace conversation, advertising, popular culture, and HIV/AIDS education.