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date: 22 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

“Youth” or “town” languages are developing in contemporary African urban centers amongst conditions of multilingualism, globalization, and superdiversity. A number of these languages have been described by researchers, notably Nouchi (Ivory Coast), Town Bemba (Zambia), Tsotsitaal (South Africa), Camfranglais (Cameroon), and Sheng (Kenya). This chapter seeks to outline the current understanding of scholars working on the topic and to use examples from the varieties above to consider the following questions: are there common linguistic strategies or characteristics that can be described for these varieties? What differences between the examples arise as a result of national contextual factors? Can these examples of language variation be explained by the concept of language “birth”, or are the varieties merely “slang” registers? The chapter makes the argument that overly simplistic categorization may obscure the diverse and creative strategies and styles that are being employed in these complex contexts.

Keywords: urban center, youth, style, globalization, language variation, multilingualism, superdiversity

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