Sheng is a Swahili-based cant, perhaps a mixed language or creole, originating among the urban underclass of Nairobi, Kenya, and influenced by many of the languages spoken there. While primarily a language of urban youths, it has spread across social classes and geographically to neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda.
Etymology and history
The word "Sheng" is coined from the two languages that it is mainly derived from: Swahili and English. The "h" was included from the middle of "Swahili because "Seng" would have sounded unusual.
Originating in the early 1950s in the Eastlands area of Nairobi (variously described as a "slum", "ghetto" or "suburb"), Sheng is now heard among matatu drivers/touts across the region, and in the popular media. Most of the Sheng words are introduced in various communities and schools and given wide exposure by music artists who include them in their lyrics, hence the rapid growth. It can be assumed to be the first language of many Kenyans in urban areas.
Like all slang, Sheng is mainly used by the youth and is part of popular culture in Kenya. It also evolves rapidly, as words are moved into and out of slang use. It is finding broad usage among hip hop artists such as Kalamashaka and G.rongi in the African Great Lakes region, both mainstream and "underground" (whose music helps spread the language and contribute to rapid changes or shifts in Sheng vocabulary), as well as among some university and secondary-school students, the language was not always associated with people who cannot do much for the society until when the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation noted the rise in both class and diversity. Radio presenters John Karani, Jeff Mwangemi and Prince Otach took it to the main stream by presenting the first radio shows using sheng phrases on the national broadcast. By 2010 almost every effect media show was presented in sheng.
The terms "online" and "offline" have specific meanings in regard to computer technology and telecommunications in which "online" indicates a state of connectivity, while "offline" indicates a disconnected state. Common vernacular extended from their computing and telecommunication meanings and refers specifically to an Internet connection. Lastly, in the area of human interaction and conversation, discussions taking place during a business meeting are "online", while issues that do not concern all participants of the meeting should be "taken offline" — continued outside of the meeting.
In computer technology and telecommunication, online and offline are defined by Federal Standard 1037C. They are states or conditions of a "device or equipment" or of a "functional unit". To be considered online, one of the following may apply to a system: it is under the direct control of another device; it is under the direct control of the system with which it is associated; or it is available for immediate use on demand by the system without human intervention.
"Online" is a moderate up-tempo song whose lyrics satirize the online world, specifically MySpace. Here, the song's protagonist is a geek who lives at home with his parents, holds a job at the local Pizza Pitt pizzeria, and claims limited success in the dating world. Actually "five-foot-three and overweight", a fan of science fiction, and a mild asthmatic, the main character has an account on MySpace. There, he assumes a much more desirable personality: "Online, I'm out in Hollywood / I'm six-foot-five and I look damn good / I drive a Maserati / I'm a black-belt in karate / And I love a good glass of wine". Later in the song, he claims to live in Malibu, California, have a sexy, finely sculptured body, and pose for Calvin Klein Inc. and GQ. The fictitious alternate personalities make the geek claim that he is "so much cooler online". The album version of the song ends with a marching band playing the melody of the chorus, a reference to an earlier line where the protagonist claims to play tuba in a marching band.