Fluidity in Sheng: a case of synonymy rather than replacement
Matheka, Paul S
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This work attempts to explain that word formation processes and lexical manipulation processes that work simultaneously leads to many different words that express the same meaning in Sheng. Though we encounter problems because of the different varieties that are as a result of the dominant vernacular languages in certain areas, we still come up with data that can be used to discuss Sheng across the board. The objectives are to identify Sheng words and describe how these words capture the fluidity of language as served by Sheng. The work uses the principles of Relevance theory by Sperber and Wilson to explain how speakers of the language are able to correctly interpret new words that enter the Sheng lexicon. The study also attempts to explain how these new words are absorbed by the speaker. As the data shows, there are words that express the same meaning because of the simultaneity with which the word formation processes and the lexical manipulation process act to keep on adding new words to Sheng lexicon. Our line of argument shows that when a new word is formed, it does not replace an already existing word but rather the word will become a synonym of the previously existing word. Our argument also shows that through principles of Relevance theory by Sperber and Wilson, speakers are able to draw the correct meanings of new words which they add to the already existing Sheng lexicon. The words will then be used interchangeably and thus synonymy. The study identifies the lexicon that is used in the Kibera part of Nairobi and the sample used in the study is chosen because the words are commonly used in other parts of Nairobi.