Felix Banda is a senior professor of the Linguistics Department, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa.
Shifting and Multi-layered Dominant Language Constellations in Dynamic Multilingual Contexts: African Perspectives (2020) in J. Lo Bianco, L. Aronin (eds.), Dominant Language Constellations, Educational Linguistics 47, pp. 75-93. Springer https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-52336-7_5
The chapter explores the notion of dominant language constellations (DLCs) in multilingual contexts of Zambia where 72 indigenous languages are spoken and English is used as the main language of education. I use data from migration and sociolinguistic literature, national census, online news media and call-in radio programmes to illustrate the multi-layered DLCs operating across individual/ household, community, regional and national boundaries. I argue that the different tiers of DLCs are a consequence of years of trans-regional and transnational migration as well as intense language and interethnic contact. The official language zoning, in which seven indigenous languages have been assigned regional language status for local government administration and early primary school education in ten provinces, and the colonial legacy of English as the language of national government business, secondary and higher education and socioeconomic mobility, have only added to the complexity and dynamism of DLCs. I show how the language practice of blending linguistic features from different languages results in discourses that reflects the DLCs operating in time and space. I conclude that the fluid multilingual contexts illustrated in this chapter suggest different DLCs operating simultaneously in and across individuals/households, communities and regions, and that the languages constituting these DLCs are not fixed leading to complex configurations and multiple strata of DLCs