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Deep Meta

Researcher: Prof. Dr. Anne Storch

Recent debates led in both critical sociolinguistics and the sociology of knowledges have helped to identify significant epistemic breaks, shaping the ways in which theories about language and knowledge continue to be made.

The first epistemic break concerns the total negation of the idea that there might be a natural link between a language and those who, for sociohistorical reasons, use it, simply by requiring such a group of people “to adopt and adjust to another group’s language for purposes of social regimentation and mobility without the reverse also occurring“ (Chow, 2014: 41).

The other epistemic break concerns a marginalization of theories that were made in the South (Connell, 2007), and other metalinguistic discourses than those of modern linguistics (Hountondji 1997, Hunter & Oumarou 1998). As Eze (2013) argues, this results in the creation of unintelligibility and noise, instead of language. Even though the unmaking of African, and more generally Southern, linguistic theory and metalinguistics results in its absence in most linguistic curricula, scholarly discussions and basic overview work, there are important Southern metalinguistic concepts that help to get a better idea of language as emergent and translocal.

Deep language, manifest in the evaluation of poetic and sacred speech, as well as ideas about heightened language and its indexicalities concerning heritaging and the making of identity concepts help to show the relevance of rich intellectual traditions to postcolonial linguistics.

Chow, R. (2014). Not like a native speaker. New York: Columbia University Press.
Connell, R. (2007). Southern Theory. Cambridge: Polity.
Eze, E.C. (2013). Word and mind. In C. Jeffers (ed.), Listening to Ourselves (pp. 124-157). Albany: State University of New York Press.
Hountondji, P. (ed.) (1997). Endogenous knowledge. Dakar: Codesria.
Hunter, L., & C.E. Oumarou. (1998). Towards a Hausa verbal aesthetic: aspects of language about using language. Journal of African Cultural Studies 11.2: 157-170.