The Development of Lexical and Conceptual Representations in Sheng

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 11:30
Location: Hörsaal 5A G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Everlyn KISEMBE DARKWAH, All Natins University College, Ghana
Language research on lexical representation reveals that representation attaches meaning and language to culture. This paper investigates how the use of Sheng (language spoken in Kenya) texts produce and promote social values. The paper further investigates how the use of Sheng contributes to maintaining or changing values. We use the reflective theory which proposes that language works by simply replicating or imitating a fixed “truth” that is already present in the real world (Hall, 1997) as a guiding tool in the text analysis. Findings reveal that Sheng words represent social values, changing values, social groups (according to ethnicity, age, class), events and issues (war, death, work). Sheng texts carry concepts which words can be mapped to. Sheng is a language that emanated out of code mixing and switching between English (official language), Swahili (national language) and a blend of some local languages spoken in Kenya. Sheng was first spoken by the urban youth in the slums of Nairobi in the early 80’s who felt the need for belonging; being a part of a group. A good majority of the population in Kenya currently speak Sheng.