What is in a language: essentialism in macro-sociolinguistic research on Afrikaans
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Essentialist conceptions about language, and the relationship between language and other things, are still fairly common in society, and to some extent in linguistics. It is of particular relevance when working with specific (named or unnamed) languages in multilingual environments, or with one specific (named or unnamed) variety of a language among many. This article investigates how essentialism manifests in a collection of macro-sociolinguistic research articles on Afrikaans in contemporary, multilingual South Africa through critical discourse analysis. The findings indicate that subtle and covert indications of an extent of essentialism are quite common in the data, and even explicitly essentialist statements and claims are not completely absent. Some counter-examples of and challenges to essentialism in the data are also explored, although they are found to be less common than covert instances of essentialism. Suggestions regarding a few essentialism-related problems that arise from the data are discussed briefly.
- Faculty of Humanities