The changing language repertoires of Congolese migrants in the Vaal Triangle
This study aimed to explore the nature of the changing language repertoires of Congolese migrants in the Vaal Triangle region. The study assessed how the participants‟ language repertoires changed in terms of the Congolese languages brought to South Africa, and the South African languages that the participants selected to acquire. In the migratory context, migrants‟ language repertoires and cultural identities are often challenged as migrants face new socioeconomic environments and new sociolinguistic needs arise to enhance their social position in the host community. With the growing number of migrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country that has more than 200 languages, South Africa has become a destination of choice among migrants. Motivation for the drastic measure that is migration is due to the closure of American and European frontiers. In the host country, migrants have to learn new languages in addition to maintaining their home languages. The selection of new languages for acquisition is complex in a multilingual context like South Africa with 11 official languages that have unequal symbolic power. Within this linguistic market, Congolese migrants have to make language choices to improve their lives. In this process, the language repertoires of the migrant population change. In this study, questionnaire and interview data were gathered among a group of Congolese migrants to learn more about the language repertoires of the participants. The participants were selected via snowball sampling. A total of 54 participants, who are Congolese migrants, completed the questionnaire part of the study and 13 interviews were conducted. Care was taken to ensure participation across different generations. The main findings of the study are that the maintenance of Congolese languages among the older participants is driven by its role as a marker of Congolese cultural identity. However, the cultural identity of Congolese migrants is not enough to transfer the languages to the younger generation and there is evidence from this study, which indicate that the second generation will not maintain Congolese languages in this context. South African languages are learnt by the participants in this study and these languages become part of the home languages. English and Afrikaans hold high status (especially because they are learnt as school languages) but these languages are not sufficient to perform the important task of social cohesion in this context. Thus, other South African languages like Sotho and Zulu are also learnt by the participants. The overall finding of the study is that knowledge of more languages is important for the integration project that the participants are involved in; and that new patterns of language repertoires are emerging in this super-diverse context. Moreover, in the current context where global migrations are on the increase, more and more societies will start to resemble the context of this study. The findings of the study present potential global relevance.
- Humanities 
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