THE LINGUISTIC LANDSCAPE OF URBAN TANZANIA: AN ACCOUNT OF THE LANGUAGE OF BILLBOARDS AND SHOP-SIGNS IN DISTRICT HEADQUARTERS

  • Amani Lusekelo University of Dar es Salaam
  • Chrispina Alphonce University of Dodoma (Tanzania).

Abstract

In examination of language use in public domains in Tanzania, this paper articulates the state of multilingualism in the composition of signposts in district headquarters countrywide. The paper challenges the suggestion that Tanzania is primarily a Kiswahili speaking country. It also challenges the suggestion that Tanzania consists of English as an official language with limited domains of use. While it is claimed that ethnic community languages are a vehicular of communication in domains related to informal settings and homesteads, the paper argues for the presence of in linguistic landscape. Findings from five regions of Tanzania, namely, Arusha, Iringa, Kagera, Manyara and Mbeya indicate the dominance of bilingual Kiswahili-English signposts in urban centres. Further, findings display dominance of English-only signposts, which is a good testimony that this public domain makes use of English rather than Kiswahili. Furthermore, on the basis of font-size and font-colour, English words turn more prominent than Kiswahili words. Nonetheless, on the basis of word counts, Kiswahili is significantly used in bilingual signposts than English. Thus, this article concludes that the importance of English surpasses Kiswahili in the language use in bilingual signposts in urban Tanzania.     

KEYWORDS: Billboards, Languages of urban Tanzania, Multilingualism, Shop-signs, Tanzania

Author Biographies

Amani Lusekelo, University of Dar es Salaam

Amani Lusekelo is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Languages and Literature at Dar es Salaam University College of Education (University of Dar es Salaam). Apart from teaching General Linguistics to undergraduate students, Dr. Lusekelo teaches contact linguistics and sociolinguistics of international languages. Some of his famous publications include Education-Induced Borrowing in Tanzania: Penetration of Swahili Nouns into Maa (Maasai) and Hadzane (Hadzabe). Language Matters, vol. 48 (1): 3–26 (2017), The spread of Kiswahili lexis into the interior Bantu: The case of names of New World cereals and tubers in Tanzanian Bantu. Kioo cha Lugha, vol. 14: 50-73 (2016), The Hadzabe Society of Tanzania: Contacts, Sociolinguistics and Onomastics. Ibadan: John Archers Publishers Limited (2015), and Linguistic Morphology: A Student Guide. E&D Vision Publishing Limited, Dar es Salaam (2014).

 

Chrispina Alphonce, University of Dodoma (Tanzania).
Chrispina Alphonce is a lecturer of General Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies of the University of Dodoma (Tanzania). She defended her thesis on the noun phrase structure of Iraqw (Southern Cushitic) in 2016 at the University of Dodoma. Her research interests include African Languages, Syntax and English Rhetorics.
Published
2018-05-03

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1998-1279