Profiling bilingualism in an historically Afrikaans community on the Beaufort West Hooyvlakte

Anthonie, Alexa N. (2009-12)

Thesis (MA (General Linguistics))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY: This sociolinguistic study examines selected aspects of the linguistic behavior of a rural language community in South Africa. The general aims are to establish first, whether this "coloured" community in the historically Afrikaans town of Beaufort West is still predominantly Afrikaans, second, whether there is evidence of language shift in the community, specifically following more use of English in other formerly Afrikaans communities after the change of government in 1994, and third, what the nature of such language shift may be. An overview of pertinent aspects of the social and political history of South Africa generally and of Beaufort West specifically, is presented in order to contextualise the language dispensation – past and present – addressed in this study. History reveals that the town in question was first named Hooyvlakte and only later acquired the name of Beaufort West. Hooyvlakte is currently the name of one of the suburbs in which a section of Beaufort West's "coloured" community resides. For the purpose of this study the larger Beaufort West community which is in focus here, is also referred to as the Hooyvlakte community The study is mainly of a qualitative nature. The respondents were 184 members of the Hooyvlakte community, they included individuals of both genders and were aged between 16 and 87 years. The only requirement for participation in this study was that the respondent should have been a Beaufort West resident for at least 15 years. Each respondent completed a questionnaire from which his/her language proficiency, language use and language preference could be assessed. The questionnaire also allowed respondents an opportunity to express their opinion on the value and practice of multilingualism in their community. The results of this study indicate that the Hooyvlakte community remains predominantly Afrikaans. There is, however, an increase in the knowledge and use of English, and despite possible limits in actual English proficiency, the residents in the Hooyvlakte mostly view themselves as balanced Afrikaans-English bilinguals. This view is related to the gradual change in linguistic identity, from an almost exclusively (often stigmatized) Afrikaans identity to a (mostly proud) Afrikaans-English bilingual one. The stigmatized "coloured" and Afrikaans identities appear to be products of South Africa's sociopolitical history of ethnic and cultural categorisation and segregation. Stigma, on the one hand, and exclusion, on the other, have led to a desire in the Hooyvlakte community to associate with a language other than Afrikaans as well. This shift to an Afrikaans-English bilingual identity contrasts with the shift from predominantly Afrikaans monolingualism to virtual monolingualism in English found in other Coloured communities studied in the Western Cape's and Eastern Cape's metropoles (see Anthonissen and George 2003; Farmer 2009; Fortuin 2009).

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie sosiolinguistiese studie ondersoek geselekteerde aspekte van die talige gedrag van 'n landelike taalgemeenskap in Suid Afrika. Die algemene doelstellings van die studie is eerstens, om vas te stel of die "bruin" gemeenskap in die histories Afrikaanse dorp Beaufort- Wes steeds hoofsaaklik Afrikaans is, tweedens, of daar aanduidings is van taalverskuiwing, spesifiek een wat neig na 'n toenemende gebruik van Engels, soos gevind is in ander histories Afrikaanse gemeenskappe na die regeringsverandering in1994, en derdens, wat die aard van so 'n taalverskuiwing sou wees. 'n Oorsig word gegee oor beduidende aspekte van die sosiale en politieke geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika in die algemeen, en meer spesifiek van Beaufort-Wes, om die huidige en voormalige taalsituasie soos dit in hierdie studie aan die orde kom, te kontekstualiseer. Geskiedkundige verslae wys daarop dat die dorp eers die naam Hooyvlakte gehad het voor dit verander is na Beaufort-Wes. Hooyvlakte is tans die naam van een van die dorp se woonbuurte waar 'n gedeelte van Beaufort-Wes se "bruin" gemeenskap woonagtig is. In hierdie studie benoem "Hooyvlakte" die "bruin" gemeenskap van die hele dorp. Dit is in húlle wat hierdie tesis geïnteresseerd is. Die studie is hoofsaaklik kwalitatief van aard. Die respondente was 184 lede van die Hooyvlakte gemeenskap, en deelnemers het individue van beide geslagte tussen die ouderdomme van 16 en 87 jaar ingesluit. Die enigste vereiste vir deelname aan die studie was dat informante reeds 15 jaar in Beaufort-Wes woonagtig moes wees. Elke informant het 'n vraelys voltooi op grond waarvan sy/haar taalvaardigheid, taalgebruik en taalvoorkeur vasgestel kon word. Die vraelys het ook die informante geleentheid gegee om hul mening te lug oor die waarde en gebruik van veeltaligheid in hul gemeenskap. Die bevindinge van die studie toon aan dat die Hooyvlakte gemeenskap steeds hoofsaaklik Afrikaans is. Daar is egter 'n toename in hul kennis en gebruik van Engels, en ten spyte van moontlike beperkinge in hul Engelse taalvaardigheid wat formele toetse sou kon uitwys, beskou deelnemers hulself steeds as gebalanseerde tweetalige sprekers van Afrikaans en Engels. Hierdie siening hou verband met 'n verskuiwing in talige identiteit, van 'n oorwegend eksklusiewe (meestal gestigmatiseerde) Afrikaanse identiteit na 'n (grootliks trotse) Afrikaans en Engels tweetalige identiteit. Die gestigmatiseerde Bruin en Afrikaanse identiteite blyk neweprodukte te wees van die (etniese en kulturele) klassifiseringsgebruike uit die vorige Suid-Afrikaanse sosio-politiese bestel. Stigma, enersyds, en uitsluiting, andersyds, het 'n begeerte in die Hooyvlakte gemeenskap laat ontstaan, om te assosieer met 'n ander taal benewens Afrikaans. Hierdie verskuiwing na 'n tweetalige Afrikaans-Engelse identiteit kontrasteer met die verskuiwing van hoofsaaklik Afrikaanse taalidentiteit na feitlik uitsluitlik eentalig Engelse identiteit, wat onlangs in "bruin" gemeenskappe elders waargeneem en opgeteken is (vgl. Anthonissen en George 2003; Farmer 2009; Fortuin 2009).

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/2678
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