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Tracing Language Movement in Africa$
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Ericka A. Albaugh and Kathryn M. de Luna

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190657543

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190657543.001.0001

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Vernacular Language and Political Imagination

Vernacular Language and Political Imagination

(p.165) Chapter 8 Vernacular Language and Political Imagination
Tracing Language Movement in Africa

Derek R. Peterson

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the political possibilities that arose from the rapid standardization and textualization of African languages in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Language standardization entailed distortion, compression, and integration as hitherto dynamic and changeable languages were shoehorned into premade templates. It was from this transformative work that new political constituencies came—quite suddenly—into view. African entrepreneurs made haste to hail their hitherto unbiddable compatriots, creating new modes of address that could speak to a collective whole. It was a vertiginous sense of possibility that animated creative people to engage new audiences, compose new genres, and cultivate new forms of authority. That was the place from which the vocations of both the moral reformer and the literary genius came.

Keywords:   orthography, standardization, fiction, audience

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