Dr Kelechukwu Ihemere

Senior Lecturer

309 Regent Street London W1B 2HW
Telephone: 0207 911 5000 ext 65870

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I am a Senior Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics. I was educated at Newcastle University where I studied for an MA in English Language and Linguistics and a PhD in Linguistics. Before joining the University of Westminster, in September 2007, I had previously taught at Newcastle University, Northumbria University and Birmingham City University. I also spent several years in Russia working as an EFL teacher.

I have previous teaching experience in English Language and Linguistics at various United Kingdom institutions of higher education and the University of Westminster. Currently, I teach at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in a variety of areas.

My research interests are in sociolinguistics and the sociology of language, language variation and change, bilingualism, and world Englishes.  

I have investigated and presented a systematic and coherent synchronic account of the language choice patterns by Ikwerre-Nigerian Pidgin English (NPE) bilinguals in Port Harcourt City, using a variety of methods including ethnographic participant observation, face-to-face language use interviews and matched guise experiments. The findings of this study have been published as monographs and journal articles: Ihemere, K U (2006) A basic description and analytic treatment of noun clauses in Nigerian Pidgin in the Nordic Journal of African Studies Vol 15(3); Ihemere, K U (2007) A Tri-Generational Study of Language Choice and Shift in Port Harcourt; Ihemere, K U (2009) Revisiting the Issue of Language in Education Policy and Mother Tongue Medium of Instruction in Nigeria in the International Journal of the Humanities Vol 7(3); Ihemere, K U (2010) Some Code-Switching Practices in Port Harcourt: Code-Switching as a Linguistic Resource in the International Journal of the Humanities Vol 8(1).

In 2016, my research monograph on Codeswitching in Igbo-English Bilingualism: A Matrix Language Frame Account was published by Bloomsbury Academic. This study evaluates the Matrix Language Frame model of codeswitching with Igbo-English data, concluding that the data can indeed be considered a classic case of codeswitching, in that a Matrix Language can be clearly identified in bilingual clauses. It establishes this through both qualitative and quantitative analyses that make use of the typological contrasts between Igbo and English to uncover supportive evidence for the Matrix Language Frame model and its associated three principles: the Matrix Language Principle, the Asymmetry Principle, and the Uniform Structure Principle. The study goes one step further by using spectrograms and the analysis of vowel harmony between English free morphemes and Igbo bound affixes to demonstrate that two phonologies can co-exist in codeswitching and that codeswitching forms are essentially pronounced with a phonology that does not entirely resemble that of the Matrix Language variety. It finds that the same language production mechanisms as detailed under the Matrix Language Frame model and its associated three principles underlie both single and multi-word codeswitching. The study underlines the importance of the assumptions underpinning the Matrix Language Principle: (1) that language production is modular; (2) that lexical structure is both complex and abstract; and (3) that languages in contact divide responsibilities in what they may contribute toward lexical structure during the production of mixed constituents. Crucially, the monograph reports that Igbo-English bilinguals can always sustain ready access to their mother tongue mental lexicon during online speech production and thus Igbo-English may duly be described as a ‘classic’ case of codeswitching. 

In February 2017, I received funding from the Departmental Research Management Group to undertake fieldwork in Mauritius for the project: A Sociolinguistic Study of Language Use, Attitudes and Shift in Mauritius. This study focuses on presenting a systematic and coherent synchronic account of the language use predilections of the Bhojpuri people of Mauritius. The Bhojpuri are part of the Indo-Mauritian ethnic group, who make up 68% of the Mauritian population. However, according to the 2011 Mauritius census, there was a decrease in the use of Bhojpuri at home; it was spoken by 5.3% of the population compared to 12.1% in 2000. This represents quite a significant change in the language use pattern within this community of speakers in such a short space of time. Therefore, the proposed study, the first of its kind on the island, will seek to uncover the factors motivating this reported ongoing change in the typical language use pattern and the concomitant impact on issues of language vitality, identity, attitudes and the education of the younger members of the community. 

2016

Igbo-English intrasentential codeswitching and the Matrix Language Frame model (2016)
Ihemere, K. 2016. Igbo-English intrasentential codeswitching and the Matrix Language Frame model. in: Payne, D.L., Pacchiarotti, S. and Bosire, M. (ed.) Diversity in African languages: Selected papers from the 46th Annual Conference on African Linguistics Berlin Language Science Press. pp. 539-559

2013

Language contact (2013)
Ihemere, K. 2013. Language contact. in: Ihemere, K. (ed.) Language contact: a multidimensional perspective Newcastle upon Tyne, UK Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 1-22

2011

Language choice and language shift in Port Harcourt (2011)
Ihemere, K. 2011. Language choice and language shift in Port Harcourt. in: Ihemere, K. (ed.) Language contact and language shift: grammatical and sociolinguistic perspectives Munich, Germany Lincom Europa Academic Publishers. pp. 140-154

2008

A sequential analytic approach to code-switching in the Ikwerre community of Port Harcourt, Nigeria (2008)
Ihemere, K. 2008. A sequential analytic approach to code-switching in the Ikwerre community of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. in: Nikolaev, A. and Niemi, J. (ed.) Two or more languages: proceedings from the 9th Nordic Conference on Bilingualism, August 10-11, 2006, Joensuu Joensuu University of Joensuu.

2006

An integrated approach to the study of language attitudes and change in Nigeria: the case of the Ikwerre of Port Harcourt City (2006)
Ihemere, K. 2006. An integrated approach to the study of language attitudes and change in Nigeria: the case of the Ikwerre of Port Harcourt City. in: Arasanyin, O.F. and Pemberton, M.A. (ed.) Selected Proceedings of the 36th Annual Conference on African Linguistics: Shifting the Center of Africanism in Language Politics and Economic Globalization Somerville, MA Cascadilla Proceedings Project. pp. 194-207

2016

Codeswitching in Igbo-English Bilingualism (2016)
Ihemere, K. 2016. Codeswitching in Igbo-English Bilingualism. London Bloomsbury Academic.

2013

Language contact: a multidimensional perspective (2013)
Ihemere, K. (ed.) 2013. Language contact: a multidimensional perspective. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

2011

Language contact and language shift: grammatical and sociolinguistic perspectives (2011)
Ihemere, K. (ed.) 2011. Language contact and language shift: grammatical and sociolinguistic perspectives. Munich, Germany Lincom Europa Academic Publishers.

2010

A comparative analysis of grammatical and lexical cohesive devices in authentic texts in English (2010)
Ihemere, K. 2010. A comparative analysis of grammatical and lexical cohesive devices in authentic texts in English. Altona, Victoria, Australia Common Ground.

2007

A tri-generational study of language choice and shift in Port Harcourt (2007)
Ihemere, K. 2007. A tri-generational study of language choice and shift in Port Harcourt. Boca Raton, FL Universal Publishers.

2016

In Support of the Matrix Language Frame Model: Evidence from Igbo-English Intrasentential Codeswitching (2016)
Ihemere, K. 2016. In Support of the Matrix Language Frame Model: Evidence from Igbo-English Intrasentential Codeswitching. Language Matters: Studies in the Languages of Africa. 47 (1), pp. 105-127.

2010

Code-switching practices in Port Harcourt: code-switching as a linguistic resource (2010)
Ihemere, K. 2010. Code-switching practices in Port Harcourt: code-switching as a linguistic resource. International Journal of the Humanities. 8 (1), pp. 181-194.

2009

Revisiting the issue of language in educational policy and mother tongue medium of instruction in Nigeria (2009)
Ihemere, K. 2009. Revisiting the issue of language in educational policy and mother tongue medium of instruction in Nigeria. International Journal of the Humanities. 7 (3), pp. 119-132.

2006

A basic description and analytic treatment of noun clauses in Nigerian Pidgin (2006)
Ihemere, K. 2006. A basic description and analytic treatment of noun clauses in Nigerian Pidgin. Nordic Journal of African Studies. 15 (3), pp. 296-313.

2015

Igbo-English Intrasentential Codeswitching and the Matrix Language Frame model (2015)
Ihemere, K. 2015. Igbo-English Intrasentential Codeswitching and the Matrix Language Frame model. Payne, D.L., Pacchiarotti, S. and Bosire, M. (ed.) 46th Annual Conference on African Linguistics . University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, USA 26 - 29 Mar 2015 Language Science Press.

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