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The status and use of the German language in independent Namibia: Can German survive the transition?

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... While formal registers are fairly close to standard German in Germany, vernacular language use points to a Namibia-specific version of German that deviates from this in interesting ways. Among younger speakers, this kind of language use is often referred to as "Nam Släng" -a term made popular by the German-Namibian musician "EES" (Sell 2011) -whereas the older generation tends to speak of "Südwesterdeutsch" 'South-Westerners' German' (Gretschel 1995, Pütz 1991, relating to Namibia's former colonial name. In addition, speakers use the term "Namdeutsch" 'Nam-German' as an overarching, more neutral term, which accordingly we will also use here. ...
... Previous research points to lexical transfers, in particular from Afrikaans and English, as a salient characteristic of Namdeutsch (Nöckler 1963, Kleinz 1984, Gretschel 1995. Compared to this, grammatical effects of the language-contact setting seem to be less salient and, accordingly, not as well researched so far. ...
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Among (post-)colonial varieties of German, Namibian German is a particularly interesting case. It has a unique status compared to the other extra-territorial varieties as well as to those in the German-speaking area in Europe. First, it is based on a speech community with German ancestry who still live in Namibia today, which distinguishes it from such colonial varieties as Unserdeutsch in the South Pacific and makes it more similar to such German “language island” varieties as, e.g., Texas German in the United States or the German varieties still spoken in Brazil. Second, though, unlike language island varieties as well as other postcolonial varieties and more similar to those in Germany, Namibian German is linguistically vital. It is passed on to younger generations and is also used in public domains, supporting, e.g., register differentiation. Third, unlike most varieties in Germany, however, it is integrated in a setting of societal multilingualism, with speakers who routinely use two or more languages in addition to German in their daily lives, and with a broader context of high linguistic diversity, offering a wealth of language contact opportunities. In this paper, we describe this special status of Namibian German and present first results from a project that capitalises on this to investigate the (socio-)linguistic dynamics that this setting supports, affording us a spotlight on tendencies of language attitudes and language variation in contact situations of German.
... The term Südwesterdeutsch ('South-Westerners' German'), which relates to the former colonial name of Namibia, i.e. Südwestafrika ('South-West Africa'), was in wide circulation prior to and immediately after Namibia gained independence in 1990 (see, e.g., Gretschel 1984Gretschel , 1995Pütz 1991;Böhm 2003: 563). Although the term is nowadays considered politically incorrect, it continues to be used in Namibia, albeit less frequently. ...
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This paper provides an overview of the history and sociolinguistic setting of Germans and German in Namibia, which serves as a backdrop for our discussion on selected structural features of Namibian German. German has been actively spoken and used in Namibia since the 1880s, having been brought to the country through colonisation, and it remains till today to be linguistically vital. In this paper, we investigate two grammatical innovations in Namibian German via a questionnaire study, namely the expanded use of a) linking elements and b) gehen as a future auxiliary, and explore various factors which could have contributed to their emergence to better understand the dynamics of German in multilingual Namibia.
... The German-Namibian diaspora draws their slang from multilingual settings, with Afrikaans, German, and English as the main source languages. As a result, German Namibians have developed a wide range of Namibia-specific language practices ranging from ad-hoc borrowings and code-switching/mixing to Namdeutsch (Böhm 2003;Dück 2018;Gretschel 1995;Kellermeier-Rehbein 2015;Nöckler 1963;Pütz 1991;Wiese et al. 2014;2017;Wiese & Bracke 2021;Zimmer 2019). Bracke (2021 [this volume]) shows that younger speakers tend to use Namdeutsch more frequently than older speakers while gender has no clear effect on the speaker's tendency to use Namibia-specific characteristics in their speech. ...
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In this paper, I analyze the role of multilingual slang within mixed-mode groups through the example of the German-Namibian diaspora. Unlike digital single-mode groups, which only exist in computer-mediated communication (CMC), mixed-mode groups are involved in both CMC and face-to-face communication (FTF). This article focuses on the latter type of groups and addresses the question as to how contact-induced vernacular items are resemiotized from FTF to public and from spoken to written mode within these groups. It is hypothesized that the usage of multilingual slang in FTF mode and its corresponding group cohesion contribute to the frequency of slang within CMC. Furthermore, this study compares a mixed-mode group with a digital single-mode group to investigate the effects that the missing social contact within the latter group has on the tendency of its members to use multilingual slang in CMC. The German-Namibian diaspora and their language practices are particularly well suited to address this topic as they draw on multiple linguistic resources in their FTF and CMC networks with Afrikaans, German, and English being the main sources. The resulting, multilingual practices are highly ingroup specific. The study includes a mixed-method approach combining traditional FTF participant observation and modern correlation analysis of CMC data. The aim of this study is not only to shed light on the role of multilingual speech within mixed-mode groups, but also to contribute to the understanding of the complex dynamics that occur within diasporic settings. While recognizing the need for multiparadigmaticity in sociological and linguistic theory, this study stresses the importance of holistic approaches to analyze and understand language in social contexts.
... Im Folgenden möchte ich eine andere Perspektive auf das Deutsche in Namibia einnehmen. Dazu fokussiere ich auf den innerdeutschen Varietätenkontakt als potentielle Sprachwandelursache. Dieser Aspekt wurde bislang so gut wie gar nicht berücksichtigt, 3 hat sich bei der Analyse anderer extraterritorialer Varietäten aber als bedeutsam herausgestellt, vgl. 1 Einen Überblick über soziolinguistische, historische und sprachpolitische Informationen zum Deutschen in Namibia gibt ZIMMER (2019); s. auch PÜTZ (1991PÜTZ ( , 1995, GRETSCHEL (1995), SCHMIDT-LAUBER (1998), BÖHM (2003), DEUMERT (2009DEUMERT ( , 2018 2 Daneben ist auch die Bezeichnung Südwesterdeutsch geläufig, die aber allmählich außer Gebrauch zu geraten scheint. Außerdem werdenmit zum Teil leicht abweichender Bedeutungauch Namsläng und Namlish verwendet (für terminologische Überlegungen s. ...
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This paper examines the role of dialect contact in the emergence of Namdeutsch (i.e. a variety of German spoken by about 20,000 Namibians today). In order to show that German speakers of different regional origins interacted with each other in the former colony of German South West Africa, a concrete setting is reconstructed on the basis of historical sources and information on geographic distributions of surnames. Subsequently, it is shown that phenomena can be found which are usually regarded as the result of dialect contact and thus contribute to the emergence of new varieties: levelling, interdialect developments, reallocation and focusing. It is argued that dialect contact is a third cause of language change which is central to German in Namibia along with borrowings from the main contact languages English and Afrikaans and the elaboration of internal tendencies of German.
... (Gretschel 1995) Framing the group: Languages in Namibia (NSA Census 2011;NSA Census 1991;Pütz 1995) "pure" German is the best  Standard variety is "pure" and the "best"  Schools as a reference for "good" german  No namlish  Otherwise the speaker is seen as lazy, but Namgermans are "tüchtig" (hardworking) Conclusion  Stable population, stable vitality  Economic power and media landscape  Schools are important to maintain linguistic vitality and the group  Slightly declining DaM, but increasing DaZ/DaF  Strong intra-group belonging  German for intra-group usage, Afrikaans and English outgroup LF  Segregation in education, social, economy, space  Tendencies towards othering and covered emphasizing the differences between black and white namibians (up to uncovered racism?)  Colonial bond still active, i.e. the farm as a symbol in namgerman identification processes  Interethnic group relation connected to farm system ...
... Für ausführlichere Ausführungen vgl.Pütz (1991Pütz ( , 1995,Gretschel (1995),Schmidt-Lauber (1998),Böhm (2003),Deumert (2009Deumert ( , 2018, Ammon (2014), Dück (2018), Kroll-Tjingaete (2018), Shah & Zappen-Thomson (2018), Stolz & Warnke (2018), Zappen-Thomson (2019) und Zimmer (2019). ...
... Für ausführlichere Ausführungen vgl.Pütz (1991Pütz ( , 1995,Gretschel (1995),Schmidt-Lauber (1998),Böhm (2003),Deumert (2009Deumert ( , 2018, Ammon (2014), Dück (2018), Shah & Zappen-Thomson (2018), Kroll-Tjingaete (2018), Zappen-Thomson (2019) und Zimmer (2019). ...
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This paper describes the corpus Deutsch in Namibia (DNam, 'German in Namibia'), which will be openly accessible via the Datenbank für Gesprochenes Deutsch (DGD, 'Database for Spoken German'). This corpus is a new digital resource that comprehensively and systematically documents the language use of the German-speaking minority in Namibia and related language attitudes. We discuss data collection and elicitation methods (conversation groups, "language situations", semi-structured interviews), data processing including transcription, normalisation and tagging, general corpus characteristics available (size, available metadata etc.) and some basic functionalities within the DGD. First research results based on this new empirical resource illustrate its value for studies on language contact, variation and sociolinguistics.
Article
In diesem Beitrag wird der Sprachgebrauch der deutschsprachigen Minderheit in Namibia, die heute etwa 20.000 Personen umfasst und im Wesentlichen auf Migration im Zuge der Kolonialisierung des Gebietes (Deutsch-Südwestafrika; 1884 −1915) zurückgeht, mithilfe eines systematisch zusammengestellten Korpus beschrieben und analysiert. Neben einem breit angelegten Überblick über Charakteristika in Phonetik/Phonologie, Morphologie, Syntax, Lexik und (lexikalischer) Semantik, der auch Informationen zur Verwendungshäufigkeit der untersuchten Varianten enthält, werden ausgewählte Phänomene etwas ausführlicher behandelt, um allgemeine Zusammenhänge offenzulegen. Dabei kommen unter anderem die folgenden Bereiche zur Sprache, die als prägend für das Deutsche in Namibia angesehen werden können: Entlehnungen und Sprachkontakt (vor allem mit Afrikaans und Englisch), der im multilingualen Setting verstärkte Ausbau binnenstrukturell angelegter Tendenzen sowie importierte sprachliche Merkmale und damit einhergehender Varietätenkontakt innerhalb der deutschsprachigen Community.
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English in the German-Speaking World - edited by Raymond Hickey December 2019
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In Namibia, German is spoken as a minority language in a speech community that has its roots in immigration from Europe in the context of colonialism. In contrast to what is happening in most varieties of German outside Europe, Namibian German is consistently passed on to the younger generations, thus offering a special opportunity to investigate the age of speakers as a factor in linguistic variation. To study this, I used data from an online survey eliciting translations of the classical "Wenker sentences" into Namibian German, with over 100 participants from 12 to 78 years of age. My paper presents results from quantitative and qualitative analyses of loan words from the major contact languages Afrikaans and English. Findings indicate that the quantity of loan words is interrelated with the age of speakers, while their grammatical integration does not show cross-generational differences. Comparing my findings with those from other varieties, I discuss the vitality of Namibian German and examine how the concepts of age grading and apparent-time change can contribute to our understanding of linguistic variation in language islands.
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In Afrika gibt es deutschsprachige Minderheiten in Namibia und in der Republik Südafrika. Die multilinguale Situation in diesen Ländern wird in diesem Beitrag unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Deutschen beschrieben. Dabei werden historische und sprachpolitische Aspekte thematisiert und die Vitalität der Minderheitensprache wird erörert. Darüber hinaus werden die sprachlichen Repertoires der deutschsprachigen Community in Namibia dargestellt sowie die Lage von Deutsch als Fremdsprache in den beiden Ländern mit deutscher Minderheitensprache.
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Aufgrund ihrer plurizentrischen Struktur weist die deutsche Sprache Standardvariation auf. Dies gilt insbesondere für die Lexik in den europaischen Staaten und Regionen, in denen Deutsch Amtssprache ist. Der vorliegende Beitrag zeigt, dass auch auserhalb der Amtssprachregion standardsprachliche Wortschatzvarianten existieren. Am Beispiel der deutschsprachigen Minderheiten in Rumanien, Namibia und Mennonitensiedlungen des amerikanischen Kontinents werden Grunde für den Erhalt der deutschen Sprache und fur die Entwicklung und Pflege spezifischer standardsprachlicher Lexeme dargestellt
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This article reports on the initial planning stages of a Namibian German dictionary project, i.e. a dictionary that would primarily provide semantic information in Standard German about Namibian German lexical items. The concept of Namibian German is explained, and existing dictionaries of Namibian German are briefly surveyed. The theoretical framework is that of a new lexicographic theory , i.e. the theory of lexicographical communication. Within this framework, a new classification of three types of dictionary purposes is introduced, i.e. macro-contextual purposes, meso-contextual purposes and micro-contextual purposes. The focus then shifts to the development of a basic microstructure for the dictionary, which refers to a set of lexicographic messages encoded in lexicographic utterances that would be included in a dictionary article in order to answer specific potential target user questions. Pertinent elements of the theory of lexicographical communication are worked out to develop a basic microstructure for the equivalent relation of full equivalence. This demonstrates that the theory can be applied generatively, i.e. to develop a dictionary model starting from a set of empirically identified user questions relating to a particular user situation. In the process, a formal link between user questions, consultation objectives, lexicographic messages and lexicographic utterances is established. This is followed by an overview of how a basic microstructure could be amplified to ensure successful lexicographical communication.
Article
Based on corpus data and the results of a linguistic survey, we will examine grammatical and lexical developments in two relatively new varieties of Modern German: Kiezdeutsch and Nam- deutsch. Both varieties are spoken in multilingual speech communities in Germany and Namibia respectively. In spite of considerable differences in the contact languages involved, the social backgrounds of the speakers and other differences, our comparison shows that the inovations have a series of conspicuous similarities. For example, gibs has developed into an element similar to a particle indicating existance and so functions as a focus marker. New particles are also being borrowed. Furthermore, in the course of a semantic-pragmatic development, the article in (ein) bisschen or bietje/bikkie has been gradually disappearing. In comparison to the German spoken in monolingual contexts, the relatively strong changes in Kiezdeutsch and Namdeutsch bear witness to the highly innovative power of these varieties. In addition, the parallelism of the developments in the domains studied here indicates fundamental tendencies of the internal structure of German.
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Anhand von Korpusdaten und den Ergebnissen einer Sprecherbefragung untersuchen wir in diesem Beitrag grammatische und lexikalische Entwicklungen in zwei relativ neuen Varietäten des Gegenwartsdeutschen: Kiezdeutsch und Namdeutsch, die jeweils von urbanen mehrsprachigen Sprechergemeinschaften in Deutschland bzw. in Namibia getragen werden. Der Vergleich zeigt, dass trotz erheblicher Unterschiede hinsichtlich der involvierten Kontaktsprachen, der sozialen Hintergründe der Sprecher/innen usw. eine Reihe auffälliger Ähnlichkeiten bei den Innovationen bestehen: so entwickelt sich "gibs" zu einem partikelartigen Existenzanzeiger, und "so" fungiert als Fokusmarker; auch neue Partikeln werden entlehnt. Darüber hinaus schwindet bei "(ein) bisschen" bzw. "bietje/bikkie" im Zuge einer semantischpragmatischen Weiterentwicklung auch der Artikel. Die im Vergleich zu dem in monolingualen Kontexten gesprochenen Deutschen relativ starken Veränderungen im Kiezdeutschen und im Namdeutschen zeugen von der hohen Innovationskraft dieser Varietäten; die Parallelität der Entwicklungen in den untersuchten Phänomenbereichen weist zudem auf grundlegende binnenstrukturelle Tendenzen im Deutschen hin.
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