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Play language practices are common around the globe and have been described for several parts of the world. While some contributions on play language focus on the structure, manipulative strategies, and rules, this paper ties in with approaches that seek to view play language practices in their respective sociolinguistic contexts (e.g. Sherzer 2002; Storch 2011). Chibende, the play language practice under study in this paper, is analyzed in its Zimbabwean context. By looking at Zimbabwean examples and by broadening the perspective on these creative linguistic phenomena, it becomes evident that play languages are not performed in isolation but are deeply entangled with other language practices, such as youth language, as part of complex repertoires and social practices as well as acts of identity. By focusing on creativity and also taking the aspect of fun into account, the agency of the speakers becomes a central feature which is also reflected by the metalinguistic knowledge of the practitioners of Zimbabwean play language. In this regard, the discussion in this paper centers on the speakers’ ideologies of play language.

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Keywords: Zimbabwe; creativity; manipulation; metalinguistic knowledge; secret language; youth language practice

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2019

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