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Max Bobholz: Against the Classification of Sheng: Why Sheng does not fit Segregationist Linguistics
May 10, 2022 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Join us for a presentation by graduating senior Max Bobholz. Advised by Professor Katrina Daly Thompson.
Sheng, an urban code used throughout Kenya which draws from many sources, is a materialization of Kenya’s multilingual and multicultural environment. Sheng speakers effortlessly blend and manipulate lexemes from many linguistic sources, making it difficult for speakers of one of its source languages to understand. The segregationist approach to understanding language treats languages as separate entities that can be defined, making complex, multilingual communication an exception and not the norm. Thus, while segregationist scholars have attempted to classify and pigeonhole Sheng into a single label (pidgin, creole, dialect, slang, etc.), Bobholz demonstrates that Sheng does not perfectly fit any of these classifications. Bobholz argues that Sheng complicates the segregationist understanding of language and forces us to instead consider integrationism as the way to understand human communication, where language is a construct, and fluid language practice is the norm.