Hermelind Le Doeuff

Hermelind Le Doeuff   

PhD student at Sorbonne Nouvelle University (Paris) 

“The sociolinguistic practices of ukuhlonipha in South Africa: creating a linguistic object of knowledge” (2021— ; to be written in French).
Supervised by Cécile Leguy (New Sorbonne University, LACITO) and Isabelle Léglise (CNRS, SEDYL)


Hermelind Le Doeuff is currently a doctoral candidate at Sorbonne Nouvelle University (Paris, France). She is part of the LACITO and SEDYL research departments. She holds a BA in Linguistics from Strasbourg University (Strasbourg, France), during which she studied at Stellenbosch University (Stellenbosch, South Africa) for a semester, and she holds a MA in Sociolinguistics from Sorbonne Nouvelle University (Paris, France). Her main areas of research are (historical) sociolinguistics, anthropological linguistics and epistemology of language. For her doctoral degree, she investigates the creation and circulation of knowledge(s) with regard to the sociolinguistic practices of ukuhlonipha/isihlonipho in South Africa, and argues that these avoidance practices have been constructed into a linguistic object of scientific enquiry which erases the wider social and political implications of this code of conduct. Hermelind was a recipient of the IFAS-research grant in 2022.


Research topics

  • historical sociolinguistics
  • decolonial sociolinguistics
  • anthropological linguistics
  • epistemology of language



sociolinguistic practices, linguistic ideologies, discourse analysis, intersectional approach, colonial linguistics, knowledge-building strategies, Nguni languages, avoidance speech, hlonipha, isihlonipho

South Africa

Xhosa, Zulu

Conference talks


  • At a colloquium (in French) « Se faire l’écho du passé dans le recueil de discours contemporains sur la pratique sociolangagière du ukuhlonipha » JE Actualités de la recherche en Afrique
    (IMAF — Paris, France)
  • At a colloquium (in French) « Au-delà du papier, au-delà des langues : enjeux de double discours dans la traduction de manuscrits xhosa numérisés »
    25e Rencontre des Jeunes Chercheurs
    (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle & Université Paris-Cité — Paris, France)
  • At an international conference (in English)
    « Isihlonipho words on Twitter: reflection of contemporary language use or virtual memorial of the custom? »
    23rd Biennial International of the African Languages Association of Southern Africa
    (CASAS, University of the Western Cape & African Languages Association of Southern Africa & PANSALB — Stellenbosch, Afrique du Sud)



In French
• « Quand l’invitation me piège », Chroniques du Terrain [en ligne], 2023. https://www.chroniquesduterrain.org/explorer/quand-invitation-piege

MA’ thesis

Appréhender et décrire le hlonipha au XIXe et début XXe siècle. Regards sur les représentations coloniales et académiques d’une pratique socio- langagière Nguni (1811-1915).

(EN. “To depict the hlonipha custom in the 19th and early 20th century. An exploration of the colonial and academic depictions of the Nguni sociolinguistic practice (1811-1915)”).

co-dir by Cécile Van den Avenne and James Costa (Sorbonne Nouvelle University, France). Online access.



currently — learning Xhosa with Tessa Dowling (University of Cape Town, South Africa)

2021 MA in Sociolinguistics, Sorbonne Nouvelle University (France)

2020 Cambridge English CAE — C2

2019 BA in Linguistics, Strasbourg University (France) and Stellenbosch University (South Africa)


Teaching experience

2023 — MA 1st year | Lecturer in Anthropology (MA Didactique des langues et du FLE), Université Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris — France)

2023 — BA 1st year | Lecturer in Sociolinguistics (BA in Linguistics), Université Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris — France)

2022 — Co-lecturer for the course Topics in African Languages (BA HO in African Languages and Literature) at the University of Cape Town (Cape Town — South Africa)

2021— BA 1st year | Lecturer in Methodology (BA in Linguistics), Université Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris — France)

2021 — Introductory methodology course (BA in Linguistics), Sorbonne Nouvelle University (France)

2019–2021 Individual Tutor at the Disabled Office (BA and MA), Sorbonne Nouvelle University (France)


Scientific events

Member of the conference organizing committee of the 14th ISOLA International Conference, Paris (ISOLA, LLACAN, LACNAD, LACITO, LESC, INALCO, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle)

Co-organiser of the colloquium Secret Language Practices: Gender, Sexuality, Race, Language (INALCO & SEDYL & LABEX EFL — Paris, France)

Member of the conference organizing committee of the RJC 2022 (Rencontres des jeunes chercheurs).
– An annual Junior Researcher Conference of the Linguistics Doctoral School (ED 622) of New Sorbonne University and Paris University.

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