"... there is no doubt that the development of English in Africa is one of the most exciting future possibilities of the world language... ." (Görlach, 1991)
English was first heard in Africa in the 16th century, and since then it has spread over the entire continent and – as a result of colonization – has become an official language in approximately one third of all African nations. However, English is certainly not spoken by one third of the continent's population. The degree to which English is spoken as a native or non-native variety in the various African countries depends mostly on the colonial history, linguistic situation, language policy and language planning programs of these countries respectively. In this course, we will therefore investigate these historical and political issues but we will also have a look at the functions English serves in various African countries and at people's attitude towards the language. We will discover that 'African English' as such is not only yet another variety of English but in itself varied for all the above mentioned reasons. We will find distinctive features on all levels of linguistic description that will allow us to distinguish, e.g. between South African and West African Englishes or between various national varieties. At the end, we will see to what extent we agree or disagree with Görlach (1991), who does "not see an entity evolving that a linguist would be happy to call 'African English'."