Nordic Journal of African Studies - Abstract

Title:'Your Chitumbuka is Shallow. It's not the Real Chitumbuka': Linguistic Purism Among Chitumbuka Speakers in Malawi
Author:Gregory Hankoni Kamwendo
Published: © Nordic Journal of African Studies Vol. 13(3) 2004, pp. 275 - 288
Language: English
Keywords: culture, language academies, linguistic purism, linguistic prejudice, standardisation


The paper discusses linguistic purism with reference to speakers of Chitumbuka in Malawi. Chitumbuka, along with other Malawian languages (except Chichewa/Chinyanja), was marginalised by the dictatorial regime of President Banda (1964-1994). One of the fruits of the post-Banda political dispensation has been the freedom to form language and cultural associations - and the Chitumbuka Language and Culture Association (CLACA) is one example. One of CLACA's self-given responsibilities is that of a language guardian. In keeping with this role, CLACA has made a number of pronouncements aimed at determining, for example, what the "real" Chitumbuka is; who the "genuine" speakers of Chitumbuka are; and what culturally corrosive issues should be excluded from Chitumbuka-medium textbooks; and so on. All these concerns boil down to the fear of loss of Chitumbuka's purity and/or the fear of Tumbuka cultural erosion. This paper points to the futility of attempts to keep language and culture pure.

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©2004, Nordic Journal of African Studies