Masters Degrees (General Linguistics)

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Now showing 1 - 5 of 167
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    The impact of social media on language use : a case study of first year students in the Western Cape
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-12) Mfenqe, Zikhona; Huddlestone, Kate; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of General Linguistics.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT : This research study investigates the influence of social media on language use among first-year students in the Western Cape. In an era dominated by digital communication platforms, the study aimed to uncover how exposure to and engagement with various social media channels shape linguistic behaviours, preferences, and norms within this specific demographic. Employing a case study approach, a mixed-methods design was employed to triangulate data from both qualitative interviews and quantitative questionnaires. The qualitative segment of the research involved in-depth interviews with a diverse cohort of first-year students, exploring their perceptions of social media's impact on their language use. This qualitative exploration sought to unravel the participants' attitudes towards the role of social media in their lives and in facilitating language change. The quantitative aspect elicited information from participants on their social media habits, attitudes towards social media and academic work and opinions about language and social media. This analysis endeavoured to discern whether specific platforms or linguistic features are more likely to induce language change among the student population. The research revealed that social media facilitated communication, relationships, and integration within the academic environment. The study also explored linguistic practices among students on these platforms, showing English as the primary language of communication, often with relaxed grammar and symbols. Native languages were sidelined, affecting their usage. Additionally, the study explored the linguistic repertoires of selected participants. Limitations included narrow generalisability due to the focus on a single cohort and geographical area, while recommendations emphasized the need to harness social media's positive aspects for enhancing language usage and academic engagement while acknowledging potential challenges.
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    Teacher perceptions and ideologies of multilingualism in the South African Montessori preschool environment
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-12) De Castro, Daniela Ruth; Oostendorp, Marcelyn; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of General Linguistics.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT : The linguistic environment of preschools in South Africa is considerably under-researched. In this study, research was undertaken to discover how South African Montessori preschool teachers approach the issue of multilingualism in their classrooms and their perceptions of the value of speaking multiple languages. Teachers working in Montessori schools in Cape Town were interviewed about their experiences and ideologies of multilingualism in the classroom. Data was analysed through a Bakhtinian lens to uncover the tensions surrounding these beliefs and experiences of South African multilingualism. It was found that although many teachers supported the idea of multilingualism, they faced significant practical and administrative barriers to its implementation in the classroom. Furthermore, it was notable that much of the work to teach or introduce additional language in the preschool space was performed by underpaid, undertrained, and under-valued non-teaching staff, such as cleaning staff and classroom assistants.
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    Not suicidal, just don’t want to live : A critical discourse analysis of the discursive construction of depression and suicidal ideation in the mental health community on Reddit
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-03) Shirley, Renee; Mongie, Lauren Danger; Brookes, Heather Jean; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of General Linguistics.
    ENGLISH SUMMARY : This research study investigated the discursive (re)construction of experiences of depression and suicidal ideation on the online social networking (OSN) platform Reddit from 2021-2022 through a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) lens. The study aimed to aid contemporary understandings of the ways in which depression and suicidal ideation is currently being (re)constructed online in order to gain insights into the ways in which people describe their lived experiences of mental illnesses on anonymous OSN platforms such as Reddit. Another primary aim of the study was to make a meaningful contribution to the field of CDA by surpassing the conventional focus on discourse produced by power elites in order to enforce their dominance against oppressed and marginalised communities and increase our insight into the different ways that experiences of depression and suicidal ideation are articulated and discursively (re)constructed when all audience members have the same opportunities to participate in the discourse. In order to explore this topic, this study addressed the following research questions: (i) How are depression and suicidal ideation discursively (re)constructed on a Reddit forum that topicalises depression and suicidal ideation?; (ii) Which themes occur most commonly in online discussions of depression and suicidal ideation?; (iii) Which discursive devices are used to (re)construct the themes of depression and suicidal ideation?; and (iv) What are the attitudes and ideologies surrounding depression and suicidal ideation on a specific forum on Reddit called r/ epression? To answer the listed research questions, the data collected for this study were analysed within the paradigm of CDA using van Dijk’s (1991, 1993, 1995a,b,c, 1998a, 2001, 2006) socio-cognitive approach to CDA, Baker’s (2006) Corpus-Assisted Discourse Analysis, Braun and Clarke’s (2006, 2019) Thematic Analysis, and Labov’s (1997, 2006) approach to Narrative Analysis. The findings of this research study revealed that the posts on r/depression were largely focused on five main themes, namely (i) Experiential depressive symptoms, (ii) Suicidal ideation, (iii) Solutions to depression and suicidal ideation, (iv) Causes of depression, and (v) Reasons they do/won’t want to die. The content of these themes suggests that discourses on the subreddit r/depression express negative attitudes towards depression, with users frequently (re)constructing depression as a negative personified entity that controls their lives; whereas, in contrast, representations of suicidal ideation are generally (re)constructed in a positive way in the sense that it is frequently described as a hypothetical thought exercise that people use as a coping strategy, rather than making actual plans to complete suicide. Finally, the study found that there was a significant amount of self-stigmatisation in the posts in which authors othered themselves by expressing negative sentiments about themselves and their experiences with depression. This finding contradicts van Dijk’s (2011: 396) prediction that discourse always constructs members of the ingroup in positive ways.
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    The discursive construction of South African-based communication practitioners’ linguistic repertoires and their perceptions of culture
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-03) Viljoen, Zania; Mongie, Lauren; Southwood, Frenette, 1971-; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of General Linguistics.
    ENGLISH SUMMARY : In South African companies, communication practitioners are typically assumed to have high levels of intercultural communicative competence as they are responsible for communicating with a range of multilingual and multicultural stakeholders such as employees, funders, and government departments. Given that one foundational aspect of such competence is cultural awareness of self and others (Deardorff, 2015: 141) this study investigated the linguistic and cultural self-awareness of a multilingual team of communication practitioners in a South African public works company by analysing the way in which they discursively construct their linguistic and cultural repertoires. Eight communication practitioners from what was deemed a typical marketing and communication team participated in this study. The study followed a qualitative, multimodal approach, in which data was collected using (i) an electronic background questionnaire that focussed on the participants’ linguistic repertoires and levels of proficiency; and (ii) an in-person Language and Culture workshop that included two art-based research activities, namely language portraits and culture sketches. These activities were followed by (iii) semi-structured group discussions and (iv) individual follow-up interviews, both of which were audio-recorded and transcribed. These transcriptions, along with the completed language portraits and culture sketches, were analysed making use of Braun and Clarke’s (2012) Thematic Analysis and Gee’s (2011) Discourse Analysis. Nine main themes were identified. In terms of the discursive construction of linguistic repertoires, these themes were (i) “Language serves as a marker of group identity”; (ii) “Languages are tools that unlock connections”; (iii) “Languages are associated with geographically located communities”; and (iv) “English serves as a bridge, a business basic, and a badge”. Themes relating to the discursive construction of culture were, (v) “Participants’ understanding of the concept ‘culture’”; (vi) “Participants recognise the dynamic nature of culture”; and (vii) “Mixing cultures could lead to a sense of culture-loss”. Themes relating to the perceived link between language and culture were: (viii) “Language is an essential component of culture”; and (ix) “Languages unlock cultural knowledge and enable connection”. The findings of this study are that communication practitioners regard their linguistic resources as both markers of their cultural identities and as communication and relational tools that enable them to connect with people from other cultural groups and gain insight into other cultures. Further, the study found that communication practitioners described culture as a dynamic set of elements and characteristics that are rooted in shared norms regarding behaviour and worldviews, and that they linked both language and culture to geographically bound communities. These findings have various implications for our understanding of how communication practitioners prepare communication products for their culturally diverse target audiences. One practical recommendation that stemmed from the findings of this study is that communication practitioners can benefit from training that is focussed on intercultural awareness as they largely seem to work under the assumption that their communication strategies are appropriate for multicultural audiences if they abide by the Company’s selected lingua franca, English, and translate pertinent technical communication for those with limited English proficiency.
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    The linguistic repertoires and lived experience of language of African foreign students at Stellenbosch University
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-12) Ramokoatsi, Mabutsana; Oostendorp, Marcelyn; Mashazi, Simangele; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. General Linguistics.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis investigated the linguistic repertoires and the lived experience of language of African foreign students at Stellenbosch University. The study also explored how globalization had affected concepts such as language, migration, and identity as the increase in the number of people moving across the world has had a huge impact on our understanding of how linguistic resources are spread and how identity is constructed. Concepts that view language as bound and static can no longer be used in this age of increased migration and increased interaction between people from all backgrounds and walks of life. This increased migration and increased mobility has meant the spread of linguistic resources that can be deployed in various communicative interactions. The aim of this study was to find the link between the linguistic repertoires of the students and how their linguistic resources contributed to their identity construction and sense of belonging in their new environment. This study was conducted at Stellenbosch University and a total of 8 participants were recruited for this study. A qualitative research approach that comprised of a language portrait, background questionnaire and semi-structured interviews was used. The language portraits were used to obtain information on the linguistic repertoires of the participants, and the background questionnaire were also used to ascertain what the linguistic repertoires of the participants were as well as to provide biographical information about where the participants originated and their level of proficiency in the languages listed. The interviews were used to gain a deeper reflection on the language portraits given by the participants and to allow the participants to narrate their own experiences in their own words and give an account of their own linguistic trajectory. It was found that migration and mobility had indeed affected the linguistic repertoires of the participants. The multilingual environments that the participants had grown up in had given them an appreciation of engaging with other multilingual speakers and so when the participants moved to new spaces, they welcomed the opportunity to add new linguistic resources to their repertoires and blend them together. The study also found that because the participants grew up in multilingual societies, this cemented a strong sense of cultural identity early on and this caused the participants to not be easily deterred when faced with linguistic challenges in Stellenbosch, but instead take them in their stride and focus on rather keeping up with the communicative interactions they were able to engage in.