Interethnic relations and language variation : language use and identity negotiation among Namibian Coloureds and Whites in interactional settings

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In this paper we present a case study of interethnic relations through language variation involving two population groups supposedly belonging to one single speech community, namely the White and Coloured Afrikaans speakers of Namibia. The specific question that we wish to tackle in reference to that community is the extent to which Coloured and White identities are differentiable via linguistic means and how those identities are negotiated in intergroup settings where Coloured and White Afrikaans speakers are in mutual contact. The methodology used to answer this question is largely based on Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT), which entails the characterization of intergroup language variation in terms of convergence, divergence and maintenance, as well as the characterization of speakers’ group identities in terms of ‘subordinate’ and ‘superordinate’ identities.