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Dr. Susanne Mohr

Foto_Mohr Dr. Susanne Mohr

Short Bio

Susanne Mohr studied English linguistics & literature, and Romance linguistics at RWTH Aachen University (2003-2007). In 2011, she obtained a PhD in general linguistics from the University of Cologne with a thesis on mouth actions in Irish Sign Language. At the same time, she took classes in African Studies in Cologne. Since then, her research has focused on multilingualism in Africa, investigating for instance the endangered hunting signals of hunter-gatherer groups in Botswana and Namibia, language policies in Tanzania and, for her postdoctoral dissertation (2020), emergent plural formations in Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria. For her project on language use and tourism in Zanzibar, she received a Feodor Lynen fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt foundation, which enabled her to spend a year at the Linguistics Section of the University of Cape Town. She subsequently received a return fellowship from the Humboldt foundation and started working on digital tourist spaces, at the University of Bonn.

In 2020, Susanne joined the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim as Associate Professor of English Sociolinguistics and was promoted to Professor in 2021. At NTNU, she leads research groups on the Semiotics of Communication in Interactive Languaging and Narrative across Media. She also collaborates internationally in various networks, e.g. the Africa in the Indian Ocean group as part of AEGIS and the working group on (language) ideologies, beliefs and attitudes as part of the European Language in the Human-Machine Era Network.

Her research interests are multilingualism and (cross-modal) language contact, multimodality, as well as language and globalisation.

Selected Publications

  • Mohr, Susanne (2022) Nominal Pluralization and Countability in African Varieties of English. [Routledge Studies in World Englishes]. Oxon & New York: Routledge.
  • Mohr, Susanne (2021) English language learning trajectories among Zanzibaris working in tourism. In Christiane Meierkord & Edgar W. Schneider (eds.) World Englishes at the Grassroots. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 70-90.
  • Mohr, Susanne (2020) Language choices of South African migrants in the tourism industry of Zanzibar. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 38(1): 60-72.
  • Mohr, Susanne, Anne-Maria Fehn & Alex de Voogt (2019) Hunting for signs: Exploring unspoken networks within the Kalahari Basin. Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 40(1): 115-147.
  • Ochieng, Dunlop & Susanne Mohr (2019) Is Tanzania’s new education and training policy a significant boost to making Swahili the medium of instruction in post-primary education? In Haase, Christoph & Natalia Orlova (eds.) English language teaching through the lens of experience. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 61-74.

To access the lecture by Dr. Mohr, please click here.


Project Description

Globalisation, i.e. the widening and speeding up of world-wide interconnections of all aspects of social life (Held et al. 1999: 2), leads to ever more mobile people moving across national and cultural boundaries. Tourism is one central aspect in this regard and creates so-called superdiverse spaces, especially on the already extremely multilingual African continent. In tourist spaces, languages are not only acquired formally in classrooms but often informally, and it is the economic value of different languages in these spaces that dictates which of them an individual adds to their linguistic repertoire.

The project investigates the acquisition of English, a global lingua franca and frequently used in tourist spaces, and Kiswahili, the official language of Tanzania and Zanzibar, among tourists and hosts on Unguja island of Zanzibar. The central aim of the project is to describe the different trajectories and modes of language learning, and to discuss them in light of recent theories of language learning in superdiversity, e.g. Blommaert and Backus’ (2011) framework. These theories and their suitability for the Zanzibari context, as well as Africa in extension, will be assessed. The analysis is based on ethnographic data from several fieldwork trips, including sociolinguistic interviews and observations at tourist locations, shops, schools and NGOs, as well as Q-methodological data.

In studying language learning in a particular local African context, related to a phenomenon brought about by globalisation, the project thus emphasises the necessity to portray Africa’s linguistic and cultural diversity in an increasingly mobile world.

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