Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

Black Afrikaans: An Alternative use/Swartafrikaans: 'N Alternatiewe Gebruik

Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

Black Afrikaans: An Alternative use/Swartafrikaans: 'N Alternatiewe Gebruik

Article excerpt

Introduction

Black Afrikaans is a non-standard variety of Afrikaans and is considered as the Afrikaans an African language mother-tongue speaker speaks. When Black Afrikaans is used among Afrikaans mother-tongue speakers and not in its usual way, between an African language mother-tongue speaker and an Afrikaans mother-tongue speaker, it becomes the imitation of Black Afrikaans. As Black Afrikaans is not used for its original function, the function is changed to an alternative function. The nature of this undescribed variety's functions has not received attention as of yet. To gain knowledge about its nature I used the theory of varieties closely associated--Black Afrikaans and Pidginised Afrikaans--to describe the characteristics and properties of the imitation of Black Afrikaans.

As the imitation of Black Afrikaans shares properties with these closely associated varieties, the latter's functions are applicable and were used as a starting point to identify respondents on the Potchefstroom campus of the North-West University. If and when the respondents suggested different or other functions, they were recorded. The data were collected by using questionnaires, e-mail interviews and a focus group interview.

Imitating Black Afrikaans: The nature of the variety

Stylising Black Afrikaans

The imitation of Black Afrikaans shares properties of Black Afrikaans and Pidginised Afrikaans. Black Afrikaans is a non-standard, non-mother-tongue variety of Afrikaans and can be seen as an interlanguage (De Wet 1993:171, 1996:7; Du Plessis 1987:24-25). The concept 'imitation' of Black Afrikaans can be compared to the following similar language phenomena: Mock Ebonics, language crossing and the process of stylising language.

Mock Ebonics is 'a system of graphemicphonetic grammatical, semantic and pragmatic strategies for representing an out-group's belief in the imperfection and inferiority of Ebonics and its users' (Ronkin & Karn 1999:360). Language crossing is another language phenomenon to take note of in this regard. Language crossing 'involves code alternation by people who are not accepted members of the group associated with the second language that they are using' (Rampton 1995:485). Speakers imitate language varieties other than a variety considered to be their own. Lopez (2009) refers to two types of crossing: Crossing in which the speaker imitates for comedic purposes and crossing in which the speaker genuinely attempts to represent the language or dialect as accurately as possible. When an Afrikaans mother-tongue speaker uses Black Afrikaans, it is possible for the speaker to implement the variety in both of these ways.

Another theoretical consideration is stylisation. According to Coupland (2001:345) stylisation is the 'knowing deployment of culturally familiar styles and identities that are marked as deviating from those predictably associated with the current speaking context.' When an Afrikaans mother-tongue speaker imitates Black Afrikaans they use a variety other than the expected one. In such a context the imitation of Black Afrikaans becomes a marked form. The process in which a language variety is used to perform 'non-current-first-person personas' using phonological and related elements is called dialect stylisation (Coupland 2001:345). Such a performance could involve play or parody where performance refers to a speaker's conscious and somewhat autonomous design of their speech, being aware of the alternative possibilities and possible outcomes (Coupland 2001:345, 2007:146).

Bell and Gibson (2011:557) distinguish between everyday-and staged performance. In the current study the imitation of Black Afrikaans can be compared to everyday performance as the speakers use it in a specific mode in everyday conversations (see Bell & Gibson 2011:557). It can also be associated with a performer- and an audience role, just like a staged performance (Bell & Gibson 2011:557). …

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