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Dr Gerald Stell
PolyU Scholars Hub

Dr Gerald Stell

Assistant Professor

Research Overview

The focus of my research is language variation in multilingual settings, with a specific emphasis on postcolonial settings. I pay specific attention to inter-group dynamics and their reflections in language ideologies, code-switching practices, and variation patterns in ‘non-native’ varieties. This leads me to examine the sociolinguistic factors behind the emergence of new varieties, such as in particular New Englishes. My main on-going projects revolve around English in Namibia, a Subsaharan African country where English has increasingly been acting as a bridge between different ethnolinguistic groups and has been developing distinctly local features in the process. I take both quantitative and qualitative approaches to variable linguistic features, such as mainly phonetic features, morphosyntactic features, and grammatical/conversational code-switching, elicited in both experimental and naturalistic settings. I situate Namibian English data in the broader perspective of local sociolinguistic dynamics that also affect how indigenous languages are spoken. Recent work includes an edited book on code-switching, sociophonetic articles on Namibian English, and ethnographic articles on Namibia’s language ideologies and youth languages. Previous work includes studies of language attitudes and variation in the Caribbean and South Africa, as well as socio-historical studies of creole formation.

Education and Academic Qualifications

  • Aggregation, Louvain-la-Neuve
  • Master in Linguistics, Paris IV Sorbonne
  • Doctor in Linguistics, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Professional Qualifications

  • Full Teaching Qualification

Teaching Areas

  • Languages in Contemporary Societies
  • English as a Global Lingua Franca
  • Freshman Seminar in Language, Culture and Communication
  • Language and Society in Europe
  • Language and Conflict in the Contemporary World
  • Languages in a Globalising World
  • Exploring Language in Social Life

Research Interests

  • Language variation
  • Intergroup communication, intergroup processes
  • World Englishes
  • Multilingualism/language contact
  • Creole languages

Research Output

  1. Stell, G. (in progress). Namibian English. A new English variety in its multilingual context.     

  2. Stell, G. & K. Yakpo. 2015. Code-Switching: Between Structural and Sociolinguistic Perspectives. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  3. Stell, G. 2011. Ethnicity and Language Variation: Grammar and Code-Switching in the Afrikaans Speech Community. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.

  1. Stell, G. 2022. ‘De-ethnicization’ in New Englishes: Perception and recognition of ethnicity in Namibian English. Lingua. DOI: 10.1016/j.lingua.2022.103355
  2. Stell, G. 2022. Review of Helene Steigertahl. Englishes in post-independence Namibia. An investigation of variety status and its implications for English language teaching. English World-Wide. DOI: 0.1075/eww.21072.ste
  3. Stell, G. 2022. Afrikaans English as a Southern Hemisphere English: Perspectives from a bilingual dataset. English World-Wide. DOI: 10.1075/eww.21071.ste 
  4. Stell, G. 2022. Contact and innovation in New Englishes: Ethnic neutrality in Namibian FACE and GOAT. Journal of English Linguistics. DOI: 10.1177/00754242221090522
  5. Stell, G. 2021. Indigenization in a downgraded continuum: Ideologies behind phonetic variation in Namibian Afrikaans. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 2021(269): 227-252.
  6. Stell, G. 2021. The founder principle and Namibian English. Journal of World Englishes 40(3): 407-423.
  7. Stell, G. 2020. Shifting prestige norms in post-colonial contexts: interpreting phonetic trends in Namibia’s lingua francas. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. DOI:10.1080/01434632.2020.1786574.
  8. Stell, G. 2020. Urban youth style or emergent urban vernacular? The rise of Namibia’s Kasietaal. Language Matters 51(2): 49-67.
  9. Stell, G. 2019. Dimensions of sociolinguistic distinction in postcolonial ethnic diversity: Folk perceptions of language across Namibia’s rural/urban divide. Lingua 226: 53-68.
  10. Stell, G. & R. Fuchs. 2019. Intergroup dynamics and variation in postcolonial ESL varieties: A preliminary view of Namibian English vowel systems. English World-Wide 40 (2): 144-169.
  11. Stell, G. 2019. Indexicalities in code-switching across Namibian ethnicities. Language Matters 50(2): 3-28.
  12. Stell, G. 2019. Tracing emergent multilectal styles. Forms and functions of code-switching among Ovambos in urban Namibia. Pragmatics 29(3): 436-462.
  13. Stell, G. 2018. Sociolinguistic indexicalities in ethnic diversity. Perceptions of ethnicity and language in Suriname. New West Indian Guide 92: 35-61.
  14. Stell, G. 2018. Representing variation in creole continua: A folk linguistic view of language variation in Trinidad. Journal of English Linguistics 46(2): 113-139.
  15. Stell, G. 2017. Social mobility and restructuring: Black Cape Dutch in perspective. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 32(1): 104-137.
  16. Stell, G. & M. Dragojevic. 2017. Multilingual Accommodation in Namibia: An Examination of Six Ethnolinguistic Groups‘ Language Use in Intra- and Intergroup Interactions. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 36(2): 167-187.
  17. Stell, G. 2016. Current trends in linguistic diversity in post-apartheid Windhoek: A qualitative appraisal. Language matters 47(3): 326-348.
  18. Stell, G. & G. Groenewald. 2016. Perceptions of Afrikaans in Namibia: Between lingua franca and socially exclusive language. Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe 56(4-2): 1128-1148.
  19. Stell, G. & T. Fox. 2015. Ethnicity in discourse: The interactional negotiation of ethnic boundaries in post-apartheid Namibia. Journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies 38(6): 976-992.
  20. Stell, G. 2015. Négociation linguistique des relations de pouvoir: L'explication et la prédiction des choix linguistiques en tant que fonction de rapports interethniques à Windhoek, Namibie [Linguistic negotiation of power relations: Explaining and predicting language choices as a function of inter-ethnic relations in Windhoek, Namibia]. Cahiers Internationaux de Sociolinguistique 41(1): 25-56.
  21. Stell, G. 2014. Dutch Creoles. Journal of Germanic Linguistics 26(3): 183-190. 
  22. Stell, G. 2014. Uses and functions of English in Namibia’s multi-ethnic settings. Journal of World Englishes 33(2): 223-241.
  23. Stell, G. 2013. Cape Malay Dutch: The missing link between Cape Dutch Pidgin and Afrikaans? In: G. Stell (ed.), Dutch and Colonial Expansion: Different contact settings, different outcomes. Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire 90: 1305-1328.
  24. Stell, G. 2013. Dutch and Colonial Expansion: Different contact settings, different outcomes. Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire 90: 689-694.
  25. Stell, G. 2012. Comparability of the Black/White divide in the American speech community and the Coloured/White divide in the Afrikaans speech community. American Speech 87(3): 294-335.
  26. Stell, G. Ethnicity and Codeswitching: Ethnic differences in grammatical and pragmatic patterns of codeswitching in the Free State. Pragmatics 22(3): 477-499.
  27. Stell, G. & C. Parafita Couto. 2012. Code-switching practices in Luxembourg’s Portuguese-speaking minority: A pilot study on the distinctive characteristics of an immigrant community’s code-switching practices within a trilingual majority. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 31(11): 153-185.
  28. Stell, G. 2010. Ethnicity in linguistic variation: White and coloured identities in Afrikaans-English code-switching. Pragmatics 20(3): 425-447.
  29. Stell, G. 2010. Afrikaans speech norms and prescriptive Afrikaans norms: Is there enough scope for grammatical diversity in Standard Afrikaans? Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe 50(3): 418-443.
  30. Stell, G. 2009. Codeswitching and ethnicity: Grammatical types of codeswitching in the Afrikaans speech community. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 199: 103–128.
  31. Stell, G. Luffin, X. & M. Rakiep. 2007. Cape Malay Afrikaans: The literary varieties used by Shaykh Hanif Edwards (1906-1958). Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 163: 319-353.
  32. Stell, G. 2007. From Kitaab-Hollandsch to Kitaab-Afrikaans: The evolution of a non-white literary variety at the Cape (1856-1940). Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics 37: 89-127.   
  1. Stell, G. (accepted). Afrikaans in Namibia. In Wannie Carstens and Nerina Bosman (eds.), Contemporary Afrikaans Linguistics. Pretoria: Van Schaik.
  2. Stell, G. (accepted). Sociolinguistic indexicalities in ethnic diversity. Perceptions of ethnicity and language in Suriname. In Scott Timcke and Shelene Gomes (eds.), Race, Class, Nationalism in the 21st century Caribbean. Athens: Georgia University Press.
  3.  Stell, G. 2021. English in Namibia: A socio-historical approach. In Anne Schröder (ed.), The Dynamics of English in Namibia. 22-41. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  4.  Stell, G. 2019. Codeswitching. In J. Darquennes, J. Salmons and W. Vandenbussche (eds.), Handbuch zur Sprachwissenschaft und Kommunikation. Volume 1. Language Contact. 157-170. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter.
  5.  Stell, G. & K. Yakpo. 2015. Elusive or self-evident? Looking for the common ground in approaches to code-switching. In G. Stell and K. Yakpo (eds.), Code-Switching at the Crossroads Between Structural and Sociolinguistic Perspectives. 1-18. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  6.  Stell, G. 2015. Towards an integrated approach to structural and conversational aspects of code-switching through macrosociolinguistic predictors. In G. Stell and K. Yakpo (eds.), Code-Switching at the Crossroads Between Structural and Sociolinguistic Perspectives. 117-138. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  7.  Stell, G. 2014. Language alternation and ethnicity in a post-colonial context: Code-switching as a ‘non-White’ register in South Africa. In A. Koll-Stobbe and S. Knospe (eds.), Language in Times of Change and Globalization. 175-190. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
  8.  Stell, G. 2013. Metropolitan standards and post-colonial standards: A future for the Dutch connection of Afrikaans? In: C.A. Negre, R. Muhr, C. Fernandez Juncal, K. Zimmermann, E. Prieto, N. Hernandez (eds.), Exploring linguistic standards in non-dominant varieties of pluricentric languages. 115-130. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
  9.  Stell, G. 2012. Ethnicity as an independent factor of language variation across space: Trends in morphosyntactic patterns in spoken Afrikaans. In A. van Kemenade and N. Haas (eds.), Historical Linguistics 2009: selected papers from the 19th International Conference on Historical Linguistics. 231-252. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  10.  Stell, G. 2010. Grammaticale variatie in het informele gesproken Afrikaans: standaardisatie ‘from above’ en standaardisatie ‘from below’ [Grammatical variation in informal spoken Afrikaans: Standardization ‘from above’ and standardization ‘from below’]. In E. Francken and M. Van der Wal (eds.), Standaardtalen in Beweging. 109-34. Münster: Nodus.
  11.  Stell, G. 2010. Afrikaans norms of spoken usage and the desirability of re-standardizing Standard Afrikaans along ethnic lines. In P. Cuvelier, T. du Plessis, M. Meeuwis, R. Vandekerckhove & V. Webb (eds.), Multilingualism from Below. 197-221. Pretoria: Van Schaik.
  12. Stell, G. 2007. Batavisation, Verdeutschung en Luxemburgs taalnationalisme: De toepassing en neerslag van Willems taalbeleid in het Groot-Hertogdom [Batavisation, Verdeutschung and Luxembourgish language nationalism: The implementation and impact of Willem’s language policy in the Grand Duchy]. In: W. Vandenbussche and G. Janssens (eds.), Taalpolitiek, taalplanning en taalgebruik in het Verenigd Koninkrijk der Nederlanden. 119-128. Gent: KANTL.
  1. Stell, G. 2014. Dutch creoles. Journal of Germanic Linguistics 26(3).

  2. G. Stell. 2013. Dutch and Colonial Expansion: Different contact settings, different outcomes. Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire 90.



  • 2021-2023.
    Inter-group convergence in Namibian English: Towards a New Model of Postcolonial Englishes. Dean’s Reserve for Research Grant. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

  • 2020-2022.
    Stylistic differentiation in New Englishes: Charting contextual variation in Namibian English. Departmental General Research Fund. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
  • 2018-2020
    Intergroup dynamics and their reflection in Outer Circle ESL varieties: A preliminary view of phonetic variation in Namibian English. Dean’s Reserve for Research Grant. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

  • 2017
    Identity negotiation in an ethnolinguistically diverse environment: Language variation and language strategies in Paramaribo, Suriname. The University of the West Indies.

  • 2011-2014
    Language and the negotiation of ethnic and urban identities in an African context: Urban registers and their variability in Windhoek, Namibia. Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), South African Academy of Sciences and Arts.

  • 2012-2013
    Identity and change in the post-apartheid city: Old and new class, space, ethnicity and language constructs in Windhoek, Namibia. The French Institute of South Africa.

  • 2012-2013
    Language-in-Education practices and their impact on informal language use in an African context: Differences in use of the LoLT and L1 at Namibian primary schools and their implications for learners´code-switching patterns. Radboud Universiteit’s Language in Contact Group.

  • 2008-2011
    Mapping communication across colour divides: Black Afrikaans in Central South Africa. Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO).

  • 2009-2010
    Code-switching among Luxembourg’s Portuguese speaking population: Forms and Functions.
    ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism in theory and Practice.

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