Fieldwork in Kinshasa, DR Congo, March-April 2022

Fieldwork Nassenstein

In March I traveled to Kinshasa, the capital of the DR Congo, to collect data on “Lingala ya BaYankee”, the Yankees’ Lingala or urban youth language, after not having been to the city in almost 10 years. Together with research assistant (and future PhD student at JGU Mainz) Tryphon-Trésor Muziazia and his brother Dr. Égide Muziazia I was able to get into contact with street vendors (of phone credit, snacks) and money changers in the busy city center and conducted interviews on how the language of urban youth had changed over the years, especially comparing elicited and recorded data from 2009 and 2010 with recent innovations and peculiar morphosyntactic features. While life in the Congolese capital had changed in these ten years, many linguistic features had still been retained by speakers, and innovations had apparently often happened at the lexical level. During the three weeks spent in Kinshasa, I was specifically interested in language practices in the small neighborhoods (the so-called “cités”), and access rituals to youth gangs and youth groups. The data that could be collected through interviews, elicitations but also participant observation is currently still being analyzed. Via WhatsApp, I am in contact with speakers from Kinshasa to exchange ideas and get more input. More to follow soon! (during the fieldwork, I also collected data with PhD candidate Artemis Saleh on Nigerian influences in Kinshasa, popular culture – and young speakers’ roles in these contexts, see for another exciting project, closely tied to the microvariation project).

Nico Nassenstein

Nico Nassenstein

PI, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

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