n Journal for Language Teaching = Ijenali Yekufundzisa Lulwimi = Tydskrif vir Taalonderrig - Die rol van Afrikaans as identiteitsfaktor by SA ekspatriate in die Verenigde Koninkryk




This paper investigates the role played by Afrikaans in the cultural and personal identity of (formerly) Afrikaans-speaking South Africans living in the United Kingdom. It has two major objectives: to set up a general profile of the composition of this relatively recently established Afrikaans-speaking expatriate community, and to identify the domains in which Afrikaans is used by its members; and to use this information to consider a more complex issue, namely the precise nature of the interplay between language and identity in the UK diaspora community and whether this can be understood in terms of scenarios previously proposed by Fishman (1994) and Kotzé (1994). The findings presented are based on a quantitative, questionnaire-based study which required respondents to supply biographical data and information about their language usage patterns and attitudes, particularly as these relate to Afrikaans. In demographic terms, the Afrikaans diaspora community was found to be relatively young, with the members of the community appearing to have settled into their new environment easily because of the prevalence of English-Afrikaans compound bilingualism in South Africa. Language usage patterns proved surprising in two major respects: the rate of Afrikaans usage seems to be inversely proportional to the genetic and geographical closeness of the relationship between the interlocutors, regardless of the mode of communication; and Afrikaans seems to be maintained more in written than in spoken contexts. On the functional front, the complex function-mixing characteristic of heterolocal cultural enclaves, rather than diglossia, evidently obtains. Finally, generally positive language attitudes emerge.


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