Magical words & iceberg territory : an exploration of the multifunctionality of language in dramatic dialogue, with specific reference to selected Fugard plays

Cunliffe, Rozanne Mary (2000-03)

Thesis (MA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Most critics and academics have concentrated on the referential function of Fugard's dramatic dialogue. In this thesis I' argue that to notice just one way in which the language functions tends to limit the text. My aim, therefore, is to look at the other ways in which language functions in selected Fugard plays. I explore the way in which Fugard uses dialect and sociolect to establish a stage world that looks and sounds recognisably South African to South Africans. I investigate how .certain assumptions (on the part of the audience) accompany the acceptance of the stage world as 'real' and how Fugard uses subtextual inferences to force the audience to critically re-evaluate these assumptions. I argue that the way to consciously understand and evaluate the sub text is through a detailed investigation of the different ways in which language functions in dramatic dialogue. Therefore, by applying Pfister's theories on the multi functionality of dramatic dialogue to selected Fugard plays, I look at how characters reveal themselves to the audience through the choice of specific words, subject matter and language variant. I also investigate, by applying Quigley's observations regarding Pinter's plays to Fugard's characters, the way in which language reveals characters striving to negotiate their status within relationships. My argument is that as far as characterisation and relationships are concerned the actual referential function of the words reveals only the tip of the iceberg - the rest lies beneath this and is to be uncovered by looking at the other ways in which the language functions. Finally I look at the way in which language as the medium of communication per se is foregrounded in Fugard's plays and how this accentuates the role that language plays in communication, as well as the failure of communication, in the South African context. Related to this metalingual function of dramatic dialogue I investigate the idea, put forward by Ibitokun, that language can be used as a 'mask' behind which a person can hide his true identity. I agree with Ibitokun that this is not only a strategy for survival but that, when consciously adopted, it is also a means for challenging the status quo. The Fugard plays I have selected are Master Harold ... and the boys, Boesman and Lena, Sizwe Bansi is Dead and The Island.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die meerderheid kritici en academici het in die verlede gekonsentreer op die referensiële funksie van dramatiese dialoog in die werke van Fugard. In hierdie tesis argumenteer ek dat so 'n enkele gesigspunt op die rol wat taal speel neig om die teks te beperk. Derhalwe kyk ek in die studie na die ander wyses waarop taal in geselekteerde Fugard dramas funksioneer. . Ek begin met 'n ondersoek na Fugard se gebruik van dialek en sosiolek om 'n wêreld op die verhoog te skep wat herkenbaar Suid-Afrikaans klink vir Suid-Afrikaners. Hierna bekyk ek die wyse waarop sekere aannames (deur die gehoor) saamgaan met die aanvaarding van die "realiteit" van die verhoogwêreld en hoe Fugard subtekstuele verwysings benut om die gehoor te dwing tot kritiese herevaluering van daardie aannames. Die argument is voorts dat 'n gedetailleerde ontleding van die wyse waarop taal in dramatiese dialoog fuksioneer onontbeerlik is indien mens die subteks wil verstaan en ontleed. Deur Pfister se teorieë oor die multifunksionaliteit van dramatiese dialoog toe te pas op geselekteerde Fugard toneeltekste, kyk ek dus hoe die onderskeie karakters hulle aan gehore openbaar deur hul gebruik van spesifieke woorde, inhoude en taalvariante. Ek gebruik ook Quigley se observasies oor Pinter se stukke om te bepaal tot watter mate die taal van Fugard se karakters dui op mense wat poog om hulle status in verhoudings te vestig. My argument is dat die referensiële funksie van taal slegs die oppervlak van karakterisering en verhoudings verteenwoordig - die res lê dieper verberg en moet geopenbaar word deur te kyk na die ander wyses waarop taal funksioneer. Laastens bespreek ek die mate waartoe taal per se in Fugard se stukke na vore kom en hoe dit die rol van taal in kommunikasie benadruk, asook die tekort daaraan in die Suid- Afrikaanse konteks. Verwant aan hierdie metalinguistiese funksie van taal, toets ek Ibitokun se idee dat taal 'n masker kan wees waaragter die persoon sy ware identiteit versteek. Ek stem met Ibitokun saam dat hierdie nie slegs 'n strategie vir oorlewing is nie, maar dat dit, doelbewus aangewend, ook gebruik kan word om die status quo te bevraagteken. Die Fugard tekste wat bekyk word is Master Harold ...and the boys, Boesman and Lena, Sizwe Bansi is Dead en The Island.

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