Juli 2017
Research Colloquium
11.07.2017 14:15 Uhr

Room: S125 GWI


Kikongo Facile: On mediatized language, metalinguistic chic and translanguaging practices among youths from Matadi, Kinshasa and beyond

Nico Nassenstein,

Institut für Afrikanistik & Ägyptologie, Universität zu Köln

A short time after the launch of the popular Internet news broadcast Lingala Facile (‘easy Lingala’) in 2008 in Kinshasa (DR Congo), the same format was expanded to other national languages, and Kikongo Facile (‘easy Kikongo’) held in Kikongo-Kituba was initiated. While Lingala is spoken both by urban youths in the Congo as well as in the diaspora and associated with urbanity, fashion and worldliness, Kikongo has lost some of its attractivity, often being stigmatized as langue du village (‘language of the village’) and associated with backwardness and rurality. However, due to the increasing presence of the online broadcast of Kikongo Facile, Kikongo heritage speakers (with restricted actual practice/knowledge) seem to trace and debate their families’ linguistic roots and speak about Kikongo, especially when using social media such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and WhatsApp. Youths converse about the language, learn and teach each other online basics of Kikongo Facile, and exchange related ideas and ideologies.

In my talk, I address Kikongo Facile and its metadiscourse online as a sociolinguistic phenomenon that, as an ongoing mediatization, has triggered processes of sociolinguistic change, especially in terms of attitudes toward the language and also structurally in terms of linguistic convergence between Kikongo (Facile) and Lingala. Speakers of (urban varieties of) Lingala nowadays derive more and more lexical items from the formerly ostracized Kikongo, especially among urban youths from Kinshasa, and Kikongo speakers in the cities Matadi, Boma etc. “translanguage” between both languages, which has an impact on the morphological realization of Kikongo. The mediatization of Kikongo Facile is here suggested as a key element in these processes, in which metalinguistic chic (when referring to Kikongo in social media) and predominantly young speakers’ linguistic heritage and their ideologies play a major role.