Masters Degrees (General Linguistics)

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    A case study of the use of code-blending by a bimodal bi-/multilingual deaf family
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2024-03) Arries, Levern Althea; Huddlestone, Kate; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of General Linguistics.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: When children, either deaf or hearing, are exposed to a spoken language and a signed language, they often become bimodal bilinguals. Bimodal bilinguals are able to produce both speech and sign at the same time, as the two modalities allow for the simultaneous production of two languages. This is known as code-blending. This study examines the language practices of a bimodal bi-/multilingual family, focusing on the phenomena of code-blending and code-switching. The current thesis examines the dinnertime conversations of a deaf family from Worcester, which includes deaf parents and two hearing twin girls (aged 9). All participants are bimodal multilinguals. The study involves the analysis of the family’s code choices (code-blending and code-switching patterns) during approximately one hour of recorded dinnertime interaction. Utterances which showed evidence of code-blending and code-switching were analysed. Coding was done according the turns each participant produced. There has been very limited studies on either bimodal bi-/multilingualism, or code-blending in bimodal bi-/multilingual families, especially in the South African context. The present study aims to provide a description on the linguistic choices of the hearing children of deaf adults (CODAs). Examining the bimodal bi-/multilingual family interactions during dinnertime has shown that the children and parents prefer to communicate in their dominant mode, Afrikaans and SASL respectively. When communicating with their parents, the children rather code-blend than code-switch fully into SASL This result is similar to previous research, as it shows the same preference, in which the children code-blend more than code-switch. Albeit with a small number of participants, the results have given some insight into the patterns of code-blending and code-switching in bimodal bi-/multilingual families.
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    Afrikaans-English bilinguals and the foreign language effect in South Africa
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2024-03) Cullen, Sarah; Bylund, Emanuel; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of General Linguistics.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Do people think differently when they think in a different language? Could the language that you are asked a question in impact the answer that you give? These are the questions that form the foundation of the linguistic phenomenon known as the Foreign Language Effect (FLE). The FLE suggests that individuals do indeed make different decisions when presented with messaging in their native language versus in a foreign language. Linguistic investigations have been done to explore in what circumstances this phenomenon occurs as well as what factors contribute to these changes in bilinguals’ choices. This particular research project takes place within the South African context. As a uniquely multilingual and multicultural nation, South Africa is a rich environment for psycholinguistic research. The current research specifically focuses on Afrikaans-English bilinguals who are proficient in both languages and only started learning English after the age of three. However, while the current research is based in South Africa and investigates South African participants’ decision-making, the research design was modelled on a study performed by Italian researchers Miozzo et al. (2020). They examined whether an FLE was seen when testing two groups of Italian bilinguals who were proficient in Italian and another regional language, thus exploring whether an FLE can be seen when the non-native language is not specifically a foreign language. Using Miozzo et al. (2020) as a foundation, this research project seeks to answer two key questions with regards to the FLE: 1) To what extent is decision-making and risk-aversion impacted by the FLE in proficient Afrikaans-English bilinguals? And 2) If an FLE is elicited in Afrikaans-English bilinguals, to what extent is this impacted by proficiency and age of acquisition? The study took place online and participants were presented with two dilemmas and asked how they would respond in each case. This was done via an audio modality with numerical items displayed on screen. Participants were randomly assigned to either the English or the Afrikaans language condition. The findings of this study were in contrast to Miozzo et al. (2020). While the Italian study did see an FLE occur, in the current study no FLE was seen in the way that participants answered the scenarios. These outcomes have various implications for our understanding of Afrikaans-English bilinguals’ cognitive processing and also present exciting opportunities for further study in the realm of psycholinguistics in South Africa.
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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.