15 October 2021
The Leverhulme Trust-funded project ‘Grammatical variation in Swahili: contact, change and identity’ is a collaborative research project bringing together researchers based at the University of Essex (UK), SOAS University of London (UK), Kenyatta University (Kenya) and the University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania). It is a 4-year project running from September 2021 to August 2025.
The project explores dialectal variation in the Bantu language Swahili. Swahili is spoken by more than 100 million people across East Africa, where the language has long played an important role as a regional lingua franca. In the present-day, Swahili is spoken in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, DRC, Burundi and Rwanda, as well as parts of Zambia and northern Mozambique. Despite its significant speaker numbers and regional importance, there has been no in-depth examination of present-day variation in Swahili, nor of its role in the linguistic, cultural and social identities of Swahili-speaking communities. This project seeks to address this gap and 1) advance our understanding of structural variation found in Swahili and 2) examine the effects of language function and speaker identity on this variation, drawing on insights from this major African language.
Lutz Marten, Professor of General and African Linguistics at SOAS and Co-Investigator on the project said: "Swahili is one the world’s biggest languages and widely spoken across the whole of East Africa. I am delighted to be part of this strong research team from the UK, Kenya and Tanzania which investigates variation of Swahili in today’s fast-changing environment. The project underlines how language is at the heart of culture, history and society and it provides a wonderful opportunity for Swahili scholars and our Swahili students here at SOAS."
For further information, contact:
Professor Lutz Marten - firstname.lastname@example.org