SOUTH AFRICAN INFORMAL URBAN LANGUAGES

A PROJECT FUNDED BY THE SOUTH AFRICA NETHERLANDS PROGRAMME FOR ALTERNATIVES IN DEVELOPMENT. BASED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN.



Recent Announcements

  • Conference media The conference was reported on in a number of newspapers and on the radio. The following links will take you to online articles:http://www.researchoffice.uct.ac.za/news ...
    Posted Aug 7, 2013, 4:01 AM by Ellen Harosh
  • AUYL conference 2013 The conference was a success! More news will be posted here soon about the media (including radio interviews and new articles) that was generated by the conference.
    Posted Jul 11, 2013, 11:06 PM by Ellen Harosh
  • Language Matters publication The latest article by myself and Raj has been published.. the details are as follows: Hurst, Ellen & Mesthrie, Rajend. 2013. ‘When you hang out with the guys they keep you ...
    Posted Jun 28, 2013, 12:41 AM by Ellen Harosh
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TITLE:  SOUTH AFRICAN INFORMAL URBAN LANGUAGE VARIETIES: THE NATIONAL PICTURE


Main aim and objectives

South African urban townships are characterised by a high degree of language mixing. Language in these contexts is dynamic, and ‘standard’ forms of languages such as Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho, Tswana and Pedi are being increasingly replaced by urban forms. In addition, ‘youth languages’ have long been a feature of the townships, and appear to inform and even drive linguistic change. This project is intended to identify the current status of South African urban linguistic varieties which fall broadly under the moniker ‘Tsotsitaal’, to ascertain the feasibility of recent appeals to make Tsotsitaal a national language and to identify barriers to prevent Tsotsitaal achieving legitimacy, for example, gendered access, lack of consistent lexical and syntax features, and sub cultural alignment.

Main research question

What would it entail to make Tsotsitaal a national language?

Specific objectives

- Identify to what extent Tsotsitaal can be described as one language.

- Analyse how Tsotsitaal differs from urban varieties and code-switching in multilingual township contexts.

- Document the demographic coverage in respect of age, gender, and region in the research sites.

- Discover how it is being used in social institutions such as schools, households, judicial systems and the media.

- Problematise how the sub cultural or anti-language character of Tsotsitaal challenges standardisation.

- Identify how Tsotsitaal is viewed by speakers (implicitly and explicitly) and by non-speakers.


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