Personal Profile

Nico Nassenstein was appointed Junior Professor for African Languages and Linguistics in 2017 (intermediate evaluation in 2020). He studied African Linguistics, Oriental Studies and German Studies, holds a PhD from the University of Cologne (a study on Rufumbira language, Uganda) and works in the broader fields of Sociolinguistics, Linguistic Anthropology/Anthropological Linguistics and Pragmatics.

His research areas include

(1) language variation and language contact phenomena in Bantu languages from East and Central Africa

(2) cross-register variation in Africa (also including linguistic creativity, urban language, youth language practices)

(3) language and conflict, verbal transgression and taboo (with a linguistic anthropological and postcolonial focus, also with regard to politeness strategies, avoidance strategies, sex, swearing and cursing)

(4) the study of language in touristic contexts.

His research is centered around the languages Lingala, Swahili and Kinyarwanda-Kirundi (as well as neighboring/related languages). Apart from short research stays in Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Majorca, he has spent approximately two years in DR Congo and has more than 24 months of fieldwork experience in Uganda.

His current research looks at the sociolinguistic aspects of tourism along African beaches (with Anne Storch/Angelika Mietzner, University of Cologne), he works descriptively on Bangala language (Northeastern DR Congo, Northwestern Uganda), he studies the use of Kirundi/Kinyarwanda in the urban context of Kampala (Uganda) as part of the interdisciplinary „Forum Humandifferenzierung“ (human categorization) (JGU Mainz) and he continues to work on variation in Swahili (with Daisuke Shinagawa, TUFS). Currently, he is engaged in a project studying the night from a linguistic (anthropological) perspective (with Anne Storch, University of Cologne), and studying the pragmatics of youth language (with Ellen Hurst-Harosh, University of Cape Town).

Close international cooperations in terms of research/publication projects connect his work with colleagues from the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (Japan), the University of Cape Town (South Africa), Universidade de São Paulo (Brazil), University of Cologne and GU Frankfurt. Together with colleagues from GU Frankfurt (Axel Fleisch et al.) he is currently establishing a new collaborative BA program in African Linguistics with a sociolinguistic/linguistic anthropological focus, as part of the cooperation of the Rhine-Main-Universities.

Recent publications include a guest-edited issue „Creativity in Language“ of the Journal of Language and Culture (2019, edited with Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, Anne Storch, Andrea Hollington), a book on Swearing and Cursing (2020, with Anne Storch), a special issue of the journal Swahili Forum on „Variation in Swahili“ (2020, with Daisuke Shinagawa) and a concise co-authored study „Worte, Stimmen, Räume: Eine Einladung“ [Words, Voices, Spaces: An Invitation] (with Axel Fleisch, Angelika Mietzner, Anne Storch), published as special issue 4 (2020) of the journal TheMouth. Several publication projects are currently in preparation.