Profiles of multilingualism in Kampala: An analysis of language biographies and language repertoires of University students

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Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This is a sociolinguistic study that investigates the language biographies and repertoires that underpin the kinds of linguistic knowledge students in Kampala, Uganda have acquired by the time they enter university. The study relates such biographies and repertoires to the status of the various languages represented in the study. The concepts of ‘multilingualism’ and ‘linguistic repertoire’ are central to this study as they are relevant to multilingual African communities where a wide variety of indigenous languages are recorded. The study highlights the difficulties of applying standard definitions of these concepts to speakers and communities in countries that have a highly mobile multilingual population. Insight into the linguistic resources students bring to the tertiary classroom could assist in explaining much of the communicative practices encountered among multilingual students, and in developing their linguistic resources for adequate use in academic and professional domains. An overarching objective of this research is to characterise the nature of multilingualism(s) of selected students at a Ugandan university. It also considers how their language biographies gave rise to and shaped their linguistic repertoires, and it shows how these are related to the status of different languages in local communities. The project recorded manifestations of multilingualism among University students in Kampala, investigated how various skills associated with the respective repertoires developed, and analysed how language biographies and linguistic repertoires disclose particular effects of different languages with different kinds of status in Uganda. Research data of three kinds was collected among a group of students at Makerere University, namely (i) meta-data and biographical information for which a questionnaire was used, (ii) multimodal figures in the form of coloured body shapes which participants annotated, and (iii) narratives of a selected number of participants, speakers of different L1s, collected in interviews. The triangulation of data provided by these instruments gave a holistic image of the individuals as social actors, and of the languages they use in the different social contexts in which they enact their lives. The findings of the study give an impression of the variety of languages represented amongst a sample of University students in an urban, tertiary educational setting. It also gives an indication of the mobility of the participants, which had an effect on when and how their Stellenbosch linguistic repertoires were acquired. Perceptions of and attitudes towards the official and indigenous languages including their home languages have been recorded. Informally assigned status of the languages in the country has emerged as part of the detailed profile of the multilingualism of the participants. The study indicates that many conventional definitions of ‘multilingualism’ and how it manifests in individual and community language practices need to be revised to fit linguistic realities as they exist in an African community such as in the urban setting of Kampala.
Thesis (DPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2016
Multilingualism and literature, Multilingualism--Africa, Sociolinguistics, Language and languages--Variation, Uganda--Languages, Multilingual communication, UCTD