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English in Language Shift
The History, Structure and Sociolinguistics of South African Indian English


  • Date Published: June 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521026499

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About the Authors
  • Rajend Mesthrie examines the rise of a new variety of English among Indian migrant workers indentured on the plantations of Natal in South Africa. Considering the historical background to, and linguistic consequences of, language shift in an immigrant context, he draws significant parallels between second language acquisition and the processes of pidginization and creolization. In particular, he analyses universals of second language acquisition and the role of transfer from the Indic and Dravidian substrate languages. English in Language Shift observes the acquisition of language in its social setting, often outside the classroom. Its linguistic focus is on the distinctive syntax of South African Indian English, with respect to word order and clause structures; and it contains descriptions of lexis, phonetics and morphology, in terms of social variation. South African Indian English is compared with other dialects within South Africa, with English in India, and with Englishes generally.

    • This is an academic historical and sociolinguistic study of South African Indian English (SAIE), and considers its rise as a new variety of English among Indian migrant workers, indentured on the plantations of Natal
    • Rajend Mesthrie draws important parallels between second language acquisition and the processes of pidginization and creolization
    • He compares SAIE with other South African dialects, Indian English and Englishes throughout the world. He focuses on its distinctive syntax, with respect to word order and clause structures
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A fascinating and very well-documented account of the evolution and development of South African Indian English since the Indian indentured labourers were brought into South Africa, beginning in the 1860s.' Gillian Sankoff, University of Pennsylvania

    'A most impressive piece of work.' J. M. Coetzee

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521026499
    • length: 276 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 154 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.396kg
    • contains: 3 b/w illus. 3 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Historical background: the shaping of a New English
    2. Variation in SAIE: a first glimpse
    3. Syntactic variation: the relative clause
    4. Word-order principles
    5. Non-syntactic variation
    6. Perspectives from second-language acquisition
    7. Perspectives from pidgin and creole studies
    Sources and references

  • Author

    Rajend Mesthrie, University of Cape Town

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