Linguistic Ingenuity & Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) in Multilingual Africa: A case of Kenya

Speaker: Sandra Barasa

Date: 5 February 2009

Location: van Wijkplaats 4, zaal 004


CMC language in Sub-Saharan Africa is a recent phenomenon and has hardly been researched into despite the region being highly multilingual and a host to diverse linguistic groups. Most CMC studies have focused on English, European and Asian languages.

Herring 1996 defines CMC as communication that takes place between humans via the instrumentality of computers (and mobile phones). CMC has shrunk the world by enabling almost instant communication over space and time. It can either be synchronic (where communicators can ‘dialogue’ by being available at the same time) or asynchronic (where the communicators need not be available at the same time but the receiver can access the message later on).

In this talk, I would like to give a description of the creativity of language as used in text CMC by the youth generation in Kenya. My focus is on text drawn from Email, Instant Messaging (IM), Social Network Sites (SNS) and Text Messaging (SMS).

Additionally, I would like to propose several factors that this creativity can be attributed to and finally, advance a counter-argument against the increasing outcry that CMC is leading to the deterioration of language.