Over the last couple of years, Namibia has been receiving increased attention by World Englishes (WE) researchers (cf. Buschfeld & Kautzsch 2014; Stell 2016; Steigertahl 2019; Schröder fc.2021) and Namibian Englishes (NamEs) are slowly emerging from South Africa’s shadow. Namibia constitutes an interesting case in the WE context as its status as post-colonial variety of English is debatable or very atypical, to say the least, and, thus, presents a challenge for WE models (cf. Buschfeld & Kautzsch 2017; Schröder & Zähres 2020). Recent studies have also shown that NamEs should not simply be understood as being “of a South African type” (Trudgill & Hannah 2017: 127) since uniquely Namibian features appear to exist on the levels of lexicon and morpho-syntax (cf. Kautzsch 2019), pragmatics (cf. Schröder & Schneider 2018) as well as regarding phonetic and phonological variation (cf. Kautzsch & Schröder 2016). Also, NamE is not a monolithic entity and subject to intranational variation as suggested by recent phonetic and phonological studies (cf. Stell & Fuchs 2019; Schröder et al. 2020; Schröder et al. fc.2021). At this point, the question of norms remains, however – i.e. which variety of NamE is regarded as the nation’s norm variety and how much exo- or endonormative influence is present in Namibia?
The video sharing platform YouTube has received even less attention than NamE in the WE context despite its world-wide omnipresence and wealth of multimodal data. While it can be tricky to navigate for researchers (cf. Schneider 2016), YouTube offers a variety of data types that can differ immensely from data found in traditional mass media or elicited via
(socio-)linguistic methods and, thus, complement existing approaches to paint a more complex picture for inquiries in variational linguistics and WE research in particular (cf. e.g. Lee 2017; Rüdiger 2020; Zähres fc.2021).
This study investigates phonological norms of NamE by analyzing speakers’ vowel spaces in two different types of YouTube data via acoustic phonetic means: a) formal news reports by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation and b) informal vlogs by Namibian YouTubers. Both types of data shed light on the performance of (endo-)normative realizations of NamE, which especially highlight the similarities and contrasts to South African Englishes as well as previous studies on ethnic varieties of NamE.
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