Southeast Alumnus Earns Fulbright-Hays Grant to Study in Africa

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 CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 7, 2005ᾰPhilip Rudd, a Ball State University doctoral student and alumnus of Southeast Missouri State University, will travel to Nairobi, Kenya, this month on a prestigious Fulbright-Hays grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Fulbright-Hayes Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) program provides grants to fund individual doctoral students conducting research in modern foreign languages in other countries.  Rudd’s grant will allow him to study in the African capital for six to 12 months.

Rudd received a bachelor of science in secondary education degree from Southeast in 1987.  He completed a master’s degree at Southeast in 1994.

During his travels, he hopes to provide information on a linguistic description of Sheng, an urban vernacular common in Nairobi.  He intends to resolve whether Sheng is Swahili-English code switching or a mixed language.

“Growing up, I realized how I was stigmatized for having an Ozark dialect,” said Rudd, who grew up in Doniphan, Mo.  “Many Kenyans I’ve met in my travels repeatedly have told me their English was not as good as the Americans or their Swahili was not as pure as the Tanzanians.  That’s when I first became aware of the new stigmatized vernacular called Sheng.”

Rudd will work with the University of Nairobi to conduct participant observation, interviews and archival research to collect the data needed to describe Sheng.  Rudd says he hypothesizes that if Sheng has community-wide grammatical norms and is the main form of communication for Nairobi’s youth, then it is a mixed language.

“The existence of mixed languages has only recently been acknowledged.  Therefore, an analysis and description of Sheng will contribute to the study of contact languages in general and Kenya in particular,” he said.  “The results will have implications for linguists and educators in Kenya and the United States.”

For more information about DDRA, visit www.ed.gov/programs/iegpsddrap/.