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BY MORADEWUN ADEJUNMOBI. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters Ltd, 2004. x + 224 pp. ISBN 1-85359-772-2 cloth; ISBN 1-85359-772-4 paper.
Starting her book with a succinct analysis of the etymology of the word "palaver," Moradewun Adejunmobi says that the term palaver in West African Pidgin English or Creole languages connotes "contentious discussion" (vii). She intends her Vernacular Palaver to "be a contribution to an often contentious discussion about vernacular in postcolonial world" (vii). But she approaches the debate over language from the angle of literary and cultural studies (viii) and sets out to shift attention to "the use of non-native languages from the construction of new sites of belonging" (54), for she sees that the debate has "foregrounded the function of language with regard to the specific ethnicity of historic mother tongue speakers over the fundamental operation of language in the formation of affiliations, ethnic or otherwise" (54).
Vernacular Palaver throughout its five chapters consequently explores the "general features and language practices" (176) of these new sites of belonging, emphatically highlighting how they are realized by means of non-native languages. Its cardinal, probing question recurring in various forms throughout its analysis can be said to be: "what kinds of fields of interaction and spaces of belonging are now being constituted through recourse" to non-native languages? (169). Her analysis designates European languages (the former colonizers' languages) together with lingua francas, most notably Pidgin English, Creole French, Arabic, and Kiswahili, as languages of wider communication, while mother tongues communicate effectively only within territorially circumscribed units and networks unless they are learnt and used outside their own particular domains. She uses the term "vernacular" to describe language "in its …