African sociolinguistics between urbanity and rurality


  • Susanne Mohr Norwegian University of Science and Technology Author
  • Helene Steigertahl Bayreuth University Author



urban and rural settings, African languages, varieties of English, language policy and planning


In African sociolinguistic studies a dichotomy between approaches focusing on urban centres with newly developing linguistic codes and languages used by the elite, as opposed to approaches concentrating on language documentation in rural areas has long been prevalent. That dichotomy has often been the point where English and African studies diverge in that the first have traditionally concentrated on urban locations, while the latter have focused on rural settings. The special issue at hand brings together sociolinguistic studies in urban and rural Africa as two intertwined spaces, e.g. with regard to high mobility in many African areas. Thus, it directly relates to several of the key issues discussed in Sociolinguistic Studies, such as language planning, language policies as well as sociolinguistic theory development. 

Author Biographies

  • Susanne Mohr, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

    Susanne Mohr is Associate Professor in English Sociolinguistics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway. She received her PhD from the University of Cologne for her work on Irish Sign Language. She has since been researching visual hunting signals used by hunter-gatherers in Southern Africa, non-standard plural formations and countability in African Englishes and language in tourism in Zanzibar. Her research interests include sociolinguistics, language policies, language documentation, pragmatics, corpus linguistics and morphosyntax.  

  • Helene Steigertahl, Bayreuth University

    Helene Steigertahl studied English, German and European Art History at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Afterwards she started working as a Research Assistant in English Linguistics at Bayreuth University until 2017 – the same year she finished her PhD on Educational Policy and English(es) spoken in Namibia. She is currently working as a secondary school teacher. Her research interests include African Englishes, educational policies and English Language Teaching. 


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How to Cite

Mohr, S., & Steigertahl, H. (2020). African sociolinguistics between urbanity and rurality. Sociolinguistic Studies, 14(3), 247–256.