Against all odds : the status of Fanagalo in South Africa today
Ravyse, Natasha Elfbiede
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Sub-cultural languages in South Africa – languages which do not enjoy official status amongst other qualities – have not received much attention academically. Existing theories of maintenance and shift accommodate mainstream languages in their role and function within dominant society. However the sub-cultural languages, in which Fanagalo will later be categorised, and their role and function in society are unclear. This may be the result of the inefficiency of current theories of maintenance and shift to explain the functionality of sub-cultural languages and the process they undergo leading to either maintenance or shift. Furthermore, failure to recognise the role and function of such sub-cultural languages may be attributed to their non-official status as they are not officially supported by language policies. The purpose of this study is therefore to understand the process of maintenance or shift a sub-cultural language undergoes. This process is accommodated by developing a theoretical model related to maintenance or shift for sub-cultural languages. This model, specifically based on Fanagalo, will expand on the boundaries set in existing theoretical models of maintenance and shift in order to accommodate sub-cultural language. It is important to stress that the period during which the data was collected on site at Mine X in Rustenburg, is volatile in nature. The unrest in the social context concerning the mine workers themselves during the period in which this data was gathered alludes to the value of the data and provides a unique insight not achievable under non-adverse circumstances. The unrest began in 2012 during which a “strike over pay ha(d) escalated into alleged turf war between unions” (Smith & Macalister, 2012) in Marikana, Rustenburg where more than thirty people were killed on the 17th of August, 2012. A year later, an agreement between Amcu (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union) and Lonmin was signed which, according to Mathunjwa, president of Amcu, was quoted as saying, ‘This shows that the victims did not die in vain and we pledge to continue with their fight for a living wage” (Mathunjwa, 2013, quoted by Steyn, 2013). This pledge was upheld as on 28 August, 2013, Amcu was, “asking for increases as high as 150%, and Solidarity are still engaging” (Nicolson, 2013). As the interviews as part of the data collection process for this study were conducted on 14 August 2013, the value of the data should not go unrecognised.
- Humanities