Language in public spaces : language choice in two IsiXhosa speaking communities (Langa and Khayelitsha)

Dantile, Andiswa Mesatywa (2015-04)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The purpose of this thesis was to investigate language in public spaces, specifically looking at language choices in two IsiXhosa speaking communities, namely Langa and Khayelitsha. The thesis, therefore, sought to determine why the two communities, which are inhabited largely by L1 IsiXhosa speakers, appear to be dominated by English and Afrikaans in public areas, with minimal presence of IsiXhosa. Possible contributors to the perceived language shift in public spaces include local entrepreneurs, the media (two community newspapers), the government (in their offices and advertisements) and the linguistic landscape itself (formal and informal language usage). The communities of Langa and Khayelitsha are both identified as previously disadvantaged communities with large parts of its population being less affluent due to limited educational opportunities, unemployment and a general lack of skills. A questionnaire, administered to 100 inhabitants of Langa and Khayelitsha, provided data on the perceptions of language use in public spaces in these communities as well as participants’ preferences with regard to language use in public spaces. This study provides evidence that the language use in public spaces in these two communities is not fully diverse and inclusive as it only targets individuals who either have advance formal education or are at least reasonably comfortable with English and Afrikaans. Examples of formal and informal signage examined, such as advertisements, government notices and community-related notices, show that the language used is that of the advertisers or officials, who are typically non-speakers of IsiXhosa, and not that of the target market for which the content is intended. The language preferences of the designers of the signage in public spaces are thus foregrounded at the cost of, and in spite of, the language preferences of those who live within the communities of Langa and Khayelitsha.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis het beoog om taal in publieke ruimtes te ondersoek deur spesifiek te kyk na taalkeuse in twee Xhosa-sprekende gemeenskappe, naamlik Langa en Khayelitsha. Die tesis het dus gepoog om vas te stel waarom hierdie twee gemeenskappe wat grootendeels Xhosaeerstetaalsprekend is, grootliks deur Engels en Afrikaans in publieke ruimtes bedien word met minimale isiXhosa teenwoordigheid. Van die rolspelers wat tot hierdie tipe taalverskuiwing in openbare ruimtes kon bygedra het, sluit in plaaslike entrepeneurs, die media (twee gemeenskapnuusblaaie), die regering (in hulle kantore en advertensies) asook die taallandskap self (formele en informele taalgebruik). Die gemeenskappe van Langa en Khayelitsha word albei geïdentifiseer asvoorheenbenadeelde gemeenskappe met die meerderheid van die inwoners minder gegoed as gevolg van beperkte opvoedkundige geleenthede, werkloosheid en 'n algemene gebrek aan vaardighede. ‘n Vraelys wat deur 100 inwoners van Langa en Khayelitsha ingevul is, het data voorsien oor die persepsies van taalgebruik in openbare ruimtes in hierdie gemeenskappe, sowel as oor deelnemrs se voorkeure met betrekking tot taalgebruik in openbare ruimtes. Hierdie studie bied getuienis dat die taalgebruik in hierdie twee gemeenskappe nie ten volle divers en inklusief is nie, aangesien dit slegs taalgebruikers teiken wat beduidende formele opleiding het en wat ten minste redelik met Afrikaans en Engels bekend is. Voorbeelde van formele en informele kennisgewings, soos advertensies, regeringsinligting en gemeenskapsaketoon aan dat die taalgebruik eerder die adverteerders of amptenare wat nié Xhosa-sprekend is nie, in ag neem, as die teikenmark op wie die inhoud eintlik gemik is. Die taalvoorkeure van die ontwerpers van openbare kennisgewings kry dus voorkeur bo, en ten spyte van die taalvoorkeure van diegene wat binne die gemeenskappe van Langa en Khayelitsha leef.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97060
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