Masters Degrees (General Linguistics)

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Now showing 1 - 5 of 165
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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/depression? 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.
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    Lexical variation and change in SASL : a case study of a Western Cape school-lect
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-03) Njeyiyana, Susan; Huddlestone, Kate; Baker, Anne; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of General Linguistics.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Lexical variation is common in most sign languages and is often related to regional identity specifically connected to a specific school for the Deaf. This study examined lexical variation and change in South African Sign Language (SASL) within a particular Western Cape “school-lect”. The latter refers to the transmission of particular varieties of sign language in schools for Deaf children and to the extent of their retention by adult native signers in the community. In this study, a picture-based elicitation task, incorporating some English/Afrikaans words, was used to elicit signs for 65 lemmas, extracted from Woodward’s (1993) modified Swadesh list, from four age groups of signers, ranging from 8 to 68 years. The elicited signs for each lemma were described in terms of handshape, palm orientation, location and movement, and were compared with each other. Signs that did not differ were classified as identical, signs that differed in only one parameter were classified as similar, while signs that differed in more than one parameter were classified as different – such signs could in turn have similar variants. Considerable variation occurred within and across groups: The group with the most intra-variation was the 16- to 18-year-olds, while the most inter-group variation was found between the youngest group, 8- to 10- year-olds, and the two adult groups (signers older than 18 years). Focus group interviews were held with the two adult groups (23- to 29-year-olds and 42- to 68-year-olds) to identify participants’ attitudes towards lexical variation in general, and possible reasons for lexical variation within the Deaf community from their school. During the interviews, the adults gave examples of signs that had changed, and compared the new and old signs, speculating about the reasons for the new variants. Some observed that signs are influenced by the other five schools for the Deaf in the Western Cape and by the environment outside the school, from which variants are brought to the current school. Older adults felt strongly that their (older) sign variants were appropriate, and that they communicated more easily with each other. However, some signs have developed new meanings, leaving them confused. According to the older adults, children currently at the school appear to have completely different signs that look strange and/or inappropriate to the older adults. Some observed that young Deaf children and older Deaf adults do not connect with each other and that older adults do not want to learn new variants. In contrast, young adults were willing to learn other new variants from different regions to broaden their SASL and to enable them to communicate with each other better. Young adults are able to switch variants depending on the signing community. The reason for adapting their sign lexicon was that it is important to expand one’s knowledge of all the signs and varieties used in the different South African provinces. The present study is relevant, for understanding lexical variation in SASL and for the documentation of regional varieties that are under pressure to standardize.
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    "Findings worth sharing": a move-step analysis of how linguistic findings are popularised on the TED stage
    (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-03) Butler, Emer; Oostendorp, Marcelyn; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of General Linguistics.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Genre analysis, within the discipline of linguistics, entails the detailed study of what typifies and categorises a textual or spoken discourse act. Understanding the structural and linguistic characteristics that simultaneously create and maintain a genre are important for both identifying and reproducing the genre within some discourse community. This understanding is crucial for anyone who wishes to join the discourse community of a genre. Genres, by virtue of their linguistic nature, are not necessarily static – they can evolve and change over time. The advent of the digital age has brought with it a wealth of new online genres, one of them being TED Talks, which are short talk-style presentations aimed at spreading innovative and inspirational ideas. As a modern form of science popularisation, academics have turned to the TED stage to directly and personally share their research findings with the public at large. Using the “moves and steps analysis” framework, a tool for genre analysis proposed by the linguist John Swales, TED Talks have been defined as a new genre of oral presentation style. Using a corpus linguistics approach, a generic move structure for TED Talks has been identified. However, TED Talks from different topic categories have slight variations in this move structure, which are unique to their topic category. The present study aims to investigate this variation in the rhetorical structure of TED Talks on the topic of language in terms of moves and steps. The corpus investigated consists of TED Talks given by linguists with the aim of popularising linguistic research findings that have some identified social impact potential. The study found that while the move structure of TED Talks which aim to popularise linguistic research does not differ significantly from the structure of generic TED Talks in terms of obligatory and non-obligatory moves, there is a significant difference in the use of steps. The significance of this research and these findings relates to the importance of effective science popularisation techniques, ultimately enabling the communication of crucial social research findings to the development of a better shared world.