Language biographies and language repertoires : changes in language identity of indigenous African language speakers in a town in the Northern Cape

Daubney, Anna-Marie (2014-04)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study investigates the language shift from isiXhosa to Afrikaans in a group of indigenous African language speakers in a rural Northern Cape community. It plots the process that took place over three generations and focuses on the language identity of some members of this community as portrayed by their language biographies and linguistic repertoires. This phenomenon was researched after preliminary enquiries into linguistic identities and bilingualism in the Hopetown area revealed that although most inhabitants use Afrikaans as L1 at home, at school and in public, a considerable number did not present the anticipated monolingual Afrikaans with minimal L2-English repertoires. People from indigenous ethnic groups like the Xhosa were also found to be speaking Afrikaans as home language rather than isiXhosa. The thesis gives a description and explanation of how a process of language shift from isiXhosa to Afrikaans took place. The findings suggest that a number of Xhosas started to migrate from the Eastern Cape to the Hopetown area in the Northern Cape during the 1960s when employment opportunities in the State‟s water and irrigation development scheme became available. The Afrikaans-speaking employers expected their workforce to speak Afrikaans and in the interest of economic survival, the disenfranchised workers learned to speak Afrikaans. In addition to the employment situation, the accommodation situation was unusual in that Hopetown‟s township was seen as a Coloured area. In the time when the Group Areas Act dictated that ethnic segregation had to be enforced, the influx of Xhosa and other ethnic groups was not expected. When it happened, it was either overlooked or remained unnoticed. The Xhosa workers, with their families, had to blend in with the Coloured population in order not to attract attention. The research follows the language shift based on information gained from questionnaires and by means of narrative analysis. Case studies of selected respondents reveal how the individuals gradually settled into a new language identity without complete loss of their traditional ties to language and cultural practices. A small story analysis sheds light on how selected members of the community experienced the shift and how they perceive their roles in the process. This thesis ultimately shows the contribution that language biographies can make to sociolinguistic research.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie ondersoek die taalverskuiwing van isiXhosa na Afrikaans in ʼn inheemse groep Afrikataalsprekers in ʼn plattelandse Noord-Kaapse gemeenskap. Dit volg die proses wat oor drie generasies plaasgevind het en fokus op die taalidentiteit van enkele lede van dié gemeenskap soos uitgebeeld in hulle taalbiografieë en taal repertoires. Hierdie verskynsel is nagevors nadat voorlopige navrae in verband met talige identiteit en tweetaligheid in die Hopetown-omgewing daarop gedui het dat alhoewel die meeste inwoners Afrikaans tuis, by die skool en in die openbaar as eerstetaal gebruik, ʼn aansienlike getal nie die verwagte profiel van ʼn eentalige Afrikaanse gemeenskap met minimale tweedetaal-Engels vertoon het nie. Mense van inheemse etniese afkoms soos die Xhosa het ook laat blyk dat hulle Afrikaans eerder as isiXhosa as huistaal gebruik. Die tesis gee ʼn beskrywing en verduideliking van hoe ʼn proses van taalverskuiwing van isiXhosa na Afrikaans plaasgevind het. Volgens die bevindinge het ʼn groeiende getal Xhosas in die 1960s uit die Oos-Kaap na die Hopetown-omgewing in die Noord-Kaap begin migreer toe werksgeleenthede in die Staat se water- en besproeiingskema beskikbaar gekom het. Die Afrikaanssprekende werkgewers het van hulle werkers verwag om Afrikaans te praat. In die belang van ekonomiese oorlewing het die werkers wat daar geen burgerregte gehad het nie, Afrikaans geleer. Bykomend tot die werksituasie was die behuisingsituasie in die Hopetown nedersettings ongewoon daarin dat dit as Kleurlinggebied geklassifiseer is maar ook mense van ander etniese herkoms gehuisves het. In die tyd toe die Groepsgebiedewet bepaal het dat etniese segregasie toegepas moes word, is daar geen voorsiening gemaak vir die instroming van Xhosa en ander etniese groepe nie. Toe dit gebeur het, is dit óf oor die hoof gesien, óf dit het ongemerk gebeur. Die Xhosa werkers, met hulle gesinne, moes inskakel by die Kleurlinggemeenskap ten einde nie die aandag van die gesaghebbers of hulleself te vestig nie. Die navorsing volg die taalverskuiwing op basis van inligting uit vraelyste en met behulp van narratiewe analise. Gevallestudies van uitgesoekte respondente wys hoe die individue geleidelik ʼn nuwe taalidentiteit aangeneem het sonder totale verlies van hulle tradisionele bande met taal en kulturele gebruike. ʼn Klein storie analise werp lig op hoe geselekteerde lede van die gemeenskap die verskuiwing ervaar het en wat hulle siening is van hulle rolle in die proses. Hierdie tesis werp ten slotte lig op die bydrae wat taalbiografie tot sosiolinguistiese navorsing kan maak.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86596
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