Capeverdean Creole in Lisbon – young generation’s perspective
Christina Märzhäuser (University of Munich / Coimbra)
Migration as central element of globalization multiplies linguistic diversity, especially in urban areas, in many countries. The integration of non-native habitants and the emerging linguistic minorities remain a great challenge to the (often monolingual) nation-states.
For the speakers, the language of origin figures as prominent marker for ethnic identities, is important to keep up local community networks and transnational family ties. The competence in the language of the country, is supposed to translate directly into socio-economic capital and successfull integration.
Speakers of Capeverdean Creole (CVC) or Kabuverdianu form the largest linguistic minority group in Portugal, concentrating especially in the urban area of Greater Lisbon.
CVC, national language of the former Portuguese colony, still awaits full officialization on Cape Verde, while Portuguese continues as official language. In Lisbon, CVC is often missing recognition and is stigmatized as do bairro, attributed to quarters at Lisbon’s periphery housing marginalized social groups, among them many Capeverdeans.
I will show reality and attitudes from the younger generation of CVC speakers in Lisbon, based on qualitative studies, interviews and an important area of cultural production: Rap Music.
For many descendents, fluently bilingual even in the second and third „migrant generation“ (that is: born in Portugal), CVC in fact remains everyday language in their neighbourhood, together with Portuguese. Its use in the peergroup even surpasses the one in the families, according to a inquiry from 2005. In these quarters, the close language contact gives rise to mixed varieties. CVC also spreads to non-native peers, of Portuguese or African descendence. Thus, a strong reciprocal exchange process is taking place on the level of language.
This also reflects in cultural production: Rap music in CVC is becoming more and more popular, many sucessfull, well known rappers singing in Portuguese are of Capeverdean descendence. Often they mix CVC into their lyrics and see their music as a means of passing on knowledge about their language to a broader audience. In their lyrics they negotiate their social position, bilingual identity and express group belonging via language; their ‚audience desing’ includes the expression of solidarity and marketing considerations at the same time. Iniciatives of forming networks of production, distribution and consumption of Rap Kriolu across national boundaries and continents, with CVC as common link, exemplify how transnational connections draw both on language and music subculture to ultrapass local limitations. So the linguistic point of reference is local and transnational at the same time.