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Language and Communication in Africa


Admission requirements

BA degree.


Human interaction which is the basis of human sociality is dominated by the
use of language. Language is a tool for communication and experience. In using language in social interaction, speakers make various choices with respect to form (signals, varieties, genres, media, etc.) and the effects they might want to create (i.e. their communicative goals). Language is shaped by culture, emotion, politics, and technologies of communication. Language is both object of study, and it is the means through which we study, i.e. methodology and method. The study of language and communication is an interdisciplinary field in the humanities, cognitive and social sciences where (socio)linguistics, anthropology, communication studies, and history meet.

The study of language and communication is especially relevant for Africa because of the multiplicity of languages (Cameroon for instance has over 250 languages), the (colonial) impositions oflanguages and the endurance of oral traditions/orality. These African traits engender choices at micro- and macro-societal levels creating social, cultural technological and language hierarchies and preferences

Course objectives

  • Students gain knowledge of the field of language and communication in Africa

  • Students can write a research paper that reflects an understanding of the theoretical and methodological issues involved from an interdisciplinary perspective

  • Students can discuss and debate the controversies in the field



Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total: 140 hours

  • Class: 24 hours

  • Preparing presentations: 16 hours.

  • Literature/film reading: 96 hours

  • Take-home exam: 4 hours

Assessment method

Students have to present and summarise the literature and they have to work on a paper of 4000 words that shows the application of interdisciplinarity and affinity with the topic. In case of an insufficient mark, students have the opportunity to submit a rewritten version of their essay.


Blackboard will be used to communicate with the students. Discussion board will be used for debating some issues.

Reading list

  • De Bruijn, Mirjam E., Francis Nyamnjoh &. Inge Brinkman (eds.) 2009. Mobile phones: the new talking drums of everyday Africa. Bamenda: langa Publishers *Djité, Paulin. 2008. The sociolinguistics of development in Africa. Multilingual Matters *Gleck, James. 2012. The Information, a history, a theory, a flood. London: Fourth Estate *Luepke, Friederike & Anne Storch. 2013. Repertoires and choices in African languages. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Register via uSis.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

not possible


Dhr. Dr. F.K.Ameka