Levels of English and Identity in Some Selected Texts from African Commonwealth Literary Discourse

Eric Dzeayele Maiwong


This work shows that African Commonwealth writers in their use of the English language have the possibility of deploying the three levels of English language identifiable in the African Commonwealth, in order to convey a veritable African experience with the needed authenticity. These levels include Acrolectal English, Mesolectal English, and Basilectal English. By using data from African Commonwealth Literary Discourse, selected from the writings of Achebe (1982), Asong (1995), and Tah (2015), and basing the analysis on structural linguistics, semiology, and Critical Discourse Analysis strands, the work proves that African Commonwealth writers succeed in this endeavor to varying degrees. It also establishes with empirical evidence that by using strategies like grafting, code-switching, code-mixing, punning, transliteration, intertextuality, and interdiscursivity, African Commonwealth writers through language competence can always meet their objectives. The work ascertains that the effective use of Acrolectal English helps in characterization, social criticism and creation of humour rather than a usurpation of the speech of characters, and that various forms of both Mesolectal English and Basilectal English often lead to a redefinition of identity. Thus, modern African Commonwealth writers who operate only at a single level of English language do so to their detriment, and risks degenerating into a startling anachronism.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/selt.v11n2p121


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