How real has the long-anticipated fast-growing influence of American English on Kenyan English been?
A corpus-backed focus on vocabulary
In the 1990s, the existing literature anticipated a fast-growing influence of American English on Kenyan English
in the following years. Mazrui and Mazrui (1996)
even predicted a “coca-colanization”
of Kenyan English. Focusing on vocabulary, the present study investigated whether the anticipated influence has occurred or not.
From a sample of 75 fourth-year university students it collected self-reports of which words they used from 93 pairs of
American-vs-British English counterparts. These self-reports were then compared with, among others, the frequencies of the same
words in two corpora of Kenyan English which were compiled two decades apart. The study found that the respondents’ self-reports
indicated a 59 percent use of British English vocabulary, against only a 28 percent use of American English vocabulary. This
finding was by and large corroborated by the frequencies of the words concerned in the two corpora. Thus, the anticipated American
English influence has not materialized.
- 3.Results and discussion
- 3.1Respondents’ self-reports of their use of AmE or BrE vocabulary
- 3.2Respondents’ self-report percentages vis-à-vis corpus-data frequencies
- 3.3The overall picture: Evidence of greater BrE than AmE influence on KenE vocabulary
- 3.4Key determinants of the respondents’ self-report choices
- 3.4.1Semantic field
- 3.4.2Unfamiliarity of some lexical items to the respondents
- 3.4.3Variability in the use of some lexical items