Dakar Wolof: The Language of an African City


ACLS Fellowship Program


African and Asian Languages and Literatures, and Linguistics

Named Award

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow named award


African languages often have urban variants that show evidence of contact with a former European colonial language. The topic of this study is Dakar Wolof, an urban variety of Wolof spoken in Senegal that differs from its rural counterparts by extensive lexical borrowing from French. Based on data gathered in Dakar in 2005 and 2006 and historical sources, the project contributes to an understanding of how speakers create language in situations of contact by providing an extensive description of the grammar of Dakar Wolof. It also considers how language both shapes and is shaped by its social context over time and space. The empirical case study provides the basis for theoretical arguments that the individual linguistic repertoire deserves a central place as an object of linguistic study.