Over the years, there has been a recent increase in interest in youth and urban language around the world. Youth and urban languages are seen to be at the heart of language change in postmodern societies, and a feature of contemporary diversity, or ‘superdiversity’ in our cities. African urban and youth varieties particularly provide striking examples for the investigation of mixing, coinages, syntactic change, lexical innovations and other dynamic language phenomena. The inaugural conference on African Urban and Youth Languages was held in Cape Town on the 5th & 6th July 2013. The conference was a major success and the panel decided to have a second one in Nairobi, Kenya.

Goals and Purpose
This second conference intends to bring together scholars from around the world in one of the locations where these varieties are prevalent – Nairobi – in order to meet the following objectives

  • To provide a forum where the field can be further developed and theorized
  • To interrogate the role of urban youth languages in socio-economic development of the African countries.
  • To explore the possibilities of integrating African urban youth languages in the educational curriculum of African countries both as languages of instruction and as subjects of instruction
  • To explore ways of promoting, recognizing and protecting African urban youth languages within the context of Asmara declaration (2000)
  • To assess the vitality of African urban youth languages within the framework of Asmara declaration ( 2000)

Rationale: The process of urbanization is not restricted to social, economic and physical phenomena only, but extends even to language structures. Urbanization includes and produces structuration processes autonomously; at the same time, this includes autonomous language practices which are reflected as sediments of everyday knowledge in language and thus create the instruments needed for facilitating and generalizing such urbanization and the resulting urbanity of its speakers. If the city can then be viewed as a distinct life form with structuring principles of its own, we can consequently conclude from a language-sociological perspective that urban languages contribute to marking each respective unit of meaning called “the city”; they, too, are a result of processes of heterogenization and densification. As a sediment and practice, urban languages structure the city as a space of possibility. That is, they structure both the city-dwellers’ urbanity and the individuality of the respective city. This is much more apparent in contemporary African cities than elsewhere for two reasons: On the one hand, urban transformation is particularly conspicuous in these cities; on the other, a large number of languages tend to concentrate in these cities due to Africa’s dense multilingualism. The conference therefore aims to contribute to the discourse and scholarship on African cities and urban centers by focusing on one aspect that contributes to the “urbanity” of urban dwellers and the individual distinctiveness of the respective urban centers within the fabric of the multilingual nature of the African continent.
Themes: Scholars working in the field are invited to present papers relevant, but not limited to the following topical themes:

  • African youth languages, continued (Sheng, Camfranglais, Nouchi, Tsotsitaal, etc.)
  • Form and structure of urban and youth languages
  • Urban and youth languages, and contemporary culture and globalisation
  • Urban and youth languages and new media
  • Challenges of African youth languages in Education
  • Challenges of African youth languages in formulation of language policy
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