Interview with Rajend Mesthrie

Claire Cowie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The following interview with Rajend Mesthrie started by email in May 2023, switched to in-person in June 2023 at the IAWE (International Association for World Englishes) conference in Stony Brook, and continued by email. The text has been edited. Rajend Mesthrie is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Cape Town where he has taught since 1985 and holds a prestigious South African Research Chair in Migration, Language and Social Change. Mesthrie’s international reputation is built on his seminal early work on the Bhojpuri-Hindi of indentured Indians in South Africa and their acquired variety of English. These projects were published in two books in 1991 and 1992 respectively, with further research appearing in many subsequent papers. He is one of the few scholars who works across language contact and variationist sociolinguistics, and he has edited and contributed to handbooks in both of these fields. His popular writing and media work has reached a broad audience inside and outside of South Africa. Mesthrie’s sociophonetic analysis of changes in the English accents of young black South Africans in the years following the end of apartheid attracted considerable attention, with prominent articles in the Journal of Sociolinguistics, Language Variation and Change, and Language. His research on Bantu languages encompasses the origins and use of the Zulu-based pidgin Fanakalo, youth languages, and code-switching in urban varieties of isiXhosa. He is widely appreciated not only as a scholar and editor, but as a supervisor and teacher, and as a community activist at a local and national level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-423
JournalJournal of English Linguistics
Issue number4
Early online date6 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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