Linguistic Attitudes among English Varieties in South Africa

Pages: 30 (11008 words) Published: March 26, 2014

Linguistic attitudes among English varieties in South Africa - Do South Africans tolerate English linguistic diversity?

Presented at the Faculty for Anglistic
University of Potsdam
Bachelor thesis
In partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

Frauke Ferber

1 Abstract
In the ongoing search for identity, the turbulent history of Johannesburg (and South Africa) resulted in a society that is “torn between the extremes of utopian dreamworld and dystopian nightmare.” (Murray 2008; 2). Murray describes it as a place that is being pulled by the illusive dream of a steady income and pushed by despair and hopelessness where thousands are in search of a better life. Yet, possibilities for socioeconomic advancement are “largely restricted to those with inherited wealth, talents and educational attainment” (Murray 2008; 16). Not only do Murray’s aspects seem to guarantee economic success in South Africa but also the ability to speak English. Webb (2002) states that a South African must be “able to study English for the purpose of international trade and diplomacy, and in order to gain access in the higher levels of scientific and technological activity, as well as world literature and recreation in general.” (Webb 2002; 278). The purpose of this literature review is to answer the question of South African English stereotypes and the development of its countless varieties as far as tolerance towards its variations is concerned. My key terms in my search were ‘Tolerance, English speaking South African English, Black South African English, Coloured English, Afrikaans English, South African Indian English, English in Johannesburg, Linguistics and Tolerance in South Africa.’ First, definitions of stereotypes and language attitudes, tolerance and language varieties are described. Further, the historical development of South African English will be outlined. In addition to this, a brief contrast of the varieties will be given. Finally, the focus will lie on the recent years of the development of the English language in South Africa, its perceived value, lure and meaning to give a possible answer as to why the existence of many varieties of one language counter exist in one place.

2 Introduction
What are stereotypes and how are they created? What are their usages? Most of us create stereotypes every day about particular ethnic groups, individuals or events. Not only do humans create stereotypes on the basis of behaviour and actions but also on another component, language. The varieties of any language, and especially English, are so broad that even linguists struggle to comprehend and name them all. In a country with eleven official languages and a history that is marked by changing language policies on a regular basis, it is not surprising that an accurate classification of various groups, let alone their stereotypes, is not that easy. The following literature review shall examine the definition of stereotypes and identity as well as outlining the language distributions in South Africa (Chapter 4), with special focus on English. The definition of stereotypes and language attitudes can be drawn from a study that was done using the matched-guise technique among speakers of three main languages in South Africa: English, Afrikaans and Xhosa. The study was done to investigate the extent to which speakers were using language and accents to make judgments about people, examining the stereotypical views of these languages. To give an overview of the country’s history in regards to English and where attitudes may have developed, chapter 5 deals with the language history of English in South Africa, followed by chapter 6 in which various studies that have been conducted in regard to English language attitudes in South Africa are contrasted. Followed by that is an introduction to the variety of Englishes in South Africa (chapter 7). The final aim of my paper is to take into account the...
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