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State Ideology and Language in Tanzania

Second and Revised Edition

Jan Blommaert

Edition: 2

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An extended case study on Tanzania highlighting the latest theoretical and methodological approaches in sociolinguistics

Tanzania is often seen as an exceptional case of successful language planning in Africa, with Swahili being spread to all corners of the country. Yet, this objective success has always been accompanied by a culture of complaints proclaiming its utter failure.

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2. The empirical study of an African ideology
Part I: Swahili and the State: The macropolitics of language
3. The cultural philosophy of Ujamaa
4. Ujamaa linguistics
5. Ujamaa literature: The politics of shape, style and topic
Part II: Swahili and society: The micropolitics of register and repertoire
6. Early fragmentation: Campus Swahili
7. Enregistering the globalized nation
8. Conclusions

About the Author

Jan Blommaert is Professor of Language, Culture and Globalization at Tilburg University, The Netherlands. He also holds appointments at Ghent University (Belgium) and University of the Western Cape (South Africa). Major publications include Discourse: A Critical Introduction (Cambridge University Press 2005), Grassroots Literacy (Routledge 2008) , The Sociolinguistics of Globalization (Cambridge University Press 2010), and Ethnography, superdiversity and linguistic landscapes: Chronicles of Complexity (Multilingual Matters 2013).


This completely new edition of a path-breaking work theorises Tanzanian Swahili language policy and ideology. This rich picture of Swahili’s role in nation-building shows its more recent effects and how increasing social diversity is reflected in many more Swahili varieties than the planners could ever have imagined or even wanted.

- Professor David Parkin, Emeritus Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford

A landmark study by a leading scholar of language ideologies comes into new focus in this accessible account. Fresh empirical material and theoretical framing bring Blommaert’s vanguard perspective on globalization and vernacularization to a remarkable case of post-colonial language policy, ideology, and practices.

- Kathryn Woolard, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego

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