Taalverskuiwing en taalhandhawing in die Afrikaanse gemeenskap: tendense en toekomsperspektiewe
10197125 - Duvenhage, André
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Navorsing deur Schlemmer (2010) toon aan dat taalverskuiwing na Engels in ’n redelik groot mate by bruin Afrikaanssprekendes en in ’n geringer mate by wit Afrikaanssprekendes plaasvind. Ook is daar ’n groot toename in taalvermenging onder veral wit Afrikaanssprekendes, wat moontlik ’n gevaarteken vir Afrikaans is. In hierdie artikel word die faktore en tendense beskryf wat gelei het tot funksie- en statusverlies vir Afrikaans. Ook faktore wat taalverskuiwing bevorder en die verswakking van kragte wat taalverskuiwing kan teëwerk, word onder die loep geneem. Tendense en faktore wat destruktief is vir die voortbestaan van die taal, is globalisering, die staat se transformasiemaatreëls (soos regstellende aksie en verteenwoordigendheid), die owerheid se onverskillige houding teenoor inheemse tale, die disintegrasie van Afrikaner-nasionalisme, die negatiewe gevolge van ’n onverwerkte verlede en demografiese marginalisering. Daar is egter ook konstruktiewe faktore en tendense wat waarskynlik verhoed dat taalverskuiwing groter afmetings aanneem. Dit is die lewenskragtigheid en aantrekkingskrag van die Afrikaanse kultuur, die gehalte van Afrikaanse skole, die ontluikende verwerking van die verlede deur Afrikaners en optredes van die burgerlike samelewing, wat ’n mate van aktivisme en skepping van selfhelpinstellings insluit. Ook is daar obstruktiewe tendense wat positief of negatief kan ontwikkel, soos pogings om taalvermenging teen te gaan, die ontwikkeling van nuwe tegnologie en pogings om betrekkinge tussen wit en bruin Afrikaanssprekendes te verbeter. Taalhandhawing is daarop gerig om positiewe tendense positief te hou en obstruktiewe tendense in ’n positiewe rigting te laat ontwikkel, sodat die destruktiewe tendense en faktore gestuit of selfs omgekeer kan word. Ten slotte word twee moontlikhede vir die toekoms geskets. Die een kom neer op ’n voortsetting van ’n passiewe houding teenoor destruktiewe tendense en prosesse en die ander op die aanvaarding van verantwoordelikheid vir die behoud van die taal, wat aktivisme en selfhelpinstellings insluit waar die houding van die owerheid dit noodsaak.Language shift and language maintenance in the Afrikaans community: trends and perspectives for the future Research conducted by Schlemmer (2010) indicated that a significant language shift towards English is taking place among Afrikaans-speaking coloured people, and to a lesser extent among white Afrikaners. In terms of percentages, white Afrikaans-speaking adults increased from 57,1 percent in 1993 to 57,6 percent in 2008, while coloured Afrikaans speakers declined from 83,4 percent in 1993 to 77,3 percent in 2008. The moderate growth in the number of whites using Afrikaans as their mother tongue conceals a worrying trend of language shift. Among coloured adults the percentage of Afrikaans speakers decreased markedly due to language shift. Yet previous studies indicated that the coloured Afrikaans-speaking demographic has enjoyed steady growth, especially outside the Cape Peninsula. This could indicate the emergence of regional polarisation, resulting in localised language shift toward English in the Cape Town metropolitan area. Surveys also indicate the proliferation of English as an additional language. Whereas in 2003 only 30,1 percent of white Afrikaans households used English, its usage increased to 50,4 percent in 2008. The corresponding figures for coloured households indicate that English was an additional language in 36,9 percent of households in 2003, which grew to 45,4 percent in 2008. Coloured Afrikaans speakers have traditionally mixed their mother tongue with English, but (as the above figures demonstrate) in five years mixed language use among Afrikaans-speaking whites surpassed that of coloureds. The extent of language mixture varies: from a sporadic English word, up to whole sentences could be inserted. Schlemmer posits that Afrikaans speakers are returning to a situation similar to that of a century ago, when many Afrikaners utilised Dutch or English for the purposes of formal or technical communication (sometimes even in love letters). He suggests that this should serve as a warning sign regarding the Afrikaans language. This article describes the factors and trends leading to the loss of status and function of the Afrikaans language; factors which promote language shift; and the weakening of forces that oppose language shift. Trends and factors which are seen as destructive toward the continued existence of the language include globalisation, the parameters of transformation implemented by the state, such as affirmative action, the authorities’ reckless attitude towards indigenous languages, the disintegration of Afrikaner nationalism, demographic marginalisation, and the negative consequences of an unrealised peace. Many whites still harbour feelings of guilt about apartheid, while others have lost confidence in the future due to a lack of self-determination. Similarly, coloureds have not shaken off the painful memories of life under apartheid. The authors demonstrate the destructive consequences of transformation for the Afrikaans language, citing Malan (2010a:427): “If transformation has developed into the master concept of our post-1994 public order, representivity is the principal instrument for achieving transformation.” Many preeminent commentators suggest that legal and political representivity play a destructive role. Even though according to the Constitution representivity is applicable only to judges and civil servants, its application has been extended to civil society, the corporate sector, non-profit organisations and NGOs. The authors further indicate how transformation has undermined Afrikaans as a language of practical communication in broadcasting, legal practice, at universities and in schools. Controversially, education departments have changed language policies in Afrikaans schools; decisions which have been implemented at great cost of time and resources. Such policy changes were subsequently contested in high-profile court cases such as those of Middelburg, Mikro and Ermelo. One of the multitude of problems that has emerged in legal practice has been the interpretation between English and Afrikaans in court cases. Whereas the courts have traditionally been effective at interpreting between English or Afrikaans and African languages, they are proving to be largely inept at interpreting between English and Afrikaans. Interpretation between these two languages is often unavailable, or of such poor quality that Afrikaans witnesses and accused often choose to testify in English, arguably to their detriment. With regard to demographics the authors point to the consequences of unequal growth in the composition of the South African population. On the one hand, large-scale emigration by white Afrikaans speakers has accentuated the problems of an existing low birth rate, which is now below the replacement rate (by comparison, the Afrikaans-speaking coloured demographic has only recently reached the replacement birth rate). In contrast, the black population exhibits a high birth rate and an influx of immigrants from the rest of Africa. However, there are also several constructive trends and factors which have prevented the process of language shift from attaining greater momentum. These are the quality of Afrikaans schools, the attempts of Afrikaners to come to grips with the past, and the activities of civil society, which include the measures of activism and the establishment of self-help initiatives. The most significant constructive trend has proved to be the vitality and allure of the Afrikaans culture. Contributing to this is the scope and variety of Afrikaans literature, the various printed and electronic media publications, and the expanding activities of the new media, for example online journals such as LitNet. The growing number of Afrikaans arts and music festivals have also become popular attractions. Afrikaans culture is blossoming – one aspect which cannot be directly controlled by the ANC. However, areas where the state is predominant pose a difficult challenge: the SABC has drastically curtailed Afrikaans television since 1994 (while it flourishes through private broadcasters such as kykNET). Obstructive trends have also been identified which have the potential to develop either positively or negatively, such as attempts to consciously counter language-mixing, the development of new technologies, and attempts to foster a closer relationship between coloured and white Afrikaans speakers. The preeminent now deceased Afrikaans linguist Fritz Ponelis suggested that it is futile to supplant standard Afrikaans with a hybrid or mixed language. In his opinion, such a language would be unable to stand its ground against the long-term encroachment of English. Regarding cooperation between the white and coloured Afrikaans communities Giliomee (2010) differentiated between two groups of coloured Afrikaans speakers. The educated working and middle classes exhibit an enthusiasm for Afrikaans and for initiatives promoting Afrikaans, as is evident in the successes of the ACVV, Kindersorg and the Stigting vir die Bemagtiging in Afrikaans.However, a different picture emerges among the coloured “elite”. This group still maintains sensitive memories of apartheid, resulting in their rejection of Afrikaans and the subsequent adoption of English as a language of mobility and aspiration. Giliomee (2010) notes that many members of the coloured elite occupying senior positions in the civil service, university management and large companies tend to be strongly progressive and individualistic, resulting in a close association with English and the subsequent values and worldview the language promotes. Such individuals generally support the government’s pursuance of race-based transformation and its policy of English as the language of access in society. In 2006, during an ATKV conference, Neville Alexander pointed out that it is still too early to speak of an Afrikaans language community. For now, the focus should be on the shared interests of Afrikaans speakers, of which effective education and tuition in Afrikaans is the most important. The authors expect that the language policy and practices of the authorities will remain unchanged, and that the Afrikaans community will have to reckon with continued aloofness, animosity and recklessness from government. Therefore taking ownership and responsibility is essential for initiatives and institutions which aim to promote Afrikaans as a language of communication, education and job creation.
- Faculty of Humanities