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Grammar of a Space

The grammar of the village of Tiwi on the south coast of Kenya

: PD Dr. Angelika Mietzner

The Grammar of a Space examines the Digo (Mijikenda) community from a particular angle: it investigates whether the community can be described like a language in a grammar. This metaphorical approach sees people and their actions as fundamental parts of a grammar: nouns that each have a name, an identity and a role in the community. Daily activities and actions, such as farming, crafting, cooking and teaching, function as verbs that keep the community moving. Character traits and characteristics of community members are seen as adjectives that emphasise individual contributions to the village community. Prepositions reflect the relationships and connections within the community, similar to the links in language. In addition, there are valency changing factors such as the influence of NGOs, coloniality and religion, which have a strengthening or weakening effect on the community. Silent communication through ancestors, spirits and envy, or emotions expressed through colours and symbolic words on kangas, as well as a vocabulary of contingency that responds to specific conditions, are further aspects of this analogy.