n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Afrikaans as besitting, en die vraagstuk van herstandaardisering : navorsings- en oorsigartikels : Afrikaanse kaleidoskoop - bestekopname en standpunte

Volume 54, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


In this article, some key aspects of the public discussion regarding the notion of possessing a language, Afrikaans, are highlighted from a sociolinguistic perspective. The multifarious nature of this language community, consisting of speakers of diverse regional varieties, is related to the notion of a central standard language, and the representation of lexis (and grammatical forms) from these varieties in the standard serves as a challenge to be investigated. If the language as a whole is to be regarded as the property of the entire language community, this is a valid moot point. The article culminates in a comparison of various strategies of increasingly incorporating the varieties of Afrikaans both lexically and grammatically into a generally accessible common standard (which would have to be subject to the requirements of usage in various domains). The point of departure which is addressed, is the perception that (a) the standard form of Afrikaans is a user-based variety, and (b) by implication that it will only be deemed to be communal property if it has been linguistically restandardised by prescriptive means in order to expand ownership to all speakers. At the basis of this perception there are, however, certain fallacies regarding the nature of language, the process of standardisation and the ways in which variant forms obtain recognition over a wide(r) spectrum in the community. The article is firstly aimed at investigating the concept of possessing language (or a language), individually or collectively, from various perspectives, and secondly, at describing the position, function and materialisation of the standard form as a variety used for particular functions by speakers of different varieties, and thus representing communal property. The central question for which an answer is sought, is how possessing the language (collectively or individually, in all its varieties) can be linked to, and is compatible with, the concept of "standard language". An aspect of the nature of language which is important for this discussion is the distinction between instrumental (or functional) and symbolic (identificatory) values. These values often operate in a supplementary fashion, for example when the use of one language for purposes of wider communication reinforces the status of the language. On the other hand, the insistence by speakers on maintaining the symbolic value of a particular language could impede its usefulness as a lingua franca. These values may also operate separately, for instance, the development of a standard register (such as terminologies for scientific purposes) would enhance the instrumentality of a language, while creative contributions, distinguished by the form in which they are presented, such as in the field of literature, play an important role in strengthening its symbolic basis. While the link between language and culture overlaps with its value to the speakers, a further dimension is to be found in the consideration of language and culture as intellectual property. Examples of individual manifestations of language, ranging from individual words as trademarks to integrated units such as literary creations or scientific articles could be cited in this regard, but for languages as a whole there is no judicial tradition of reification. The link between a language and its speakers in terms of possession could be viewed from either a liberal or a mother-tongue based perspective (Hutton 2010), where a distinction is made between a right to possess and the relation with the object being possessed. While the liberal view does not distinguish between language and a (specific) language, and hence a particular speech community is not defined, the mother-tongue based tradition regards language as the collective property of a group of speakers who are defined in terms of history, culture and linguistic features. As alternative approaches, each of these views represents an ideal type on a complex continuum in which the above-mentioned factors all contribute to how possession of a particular language could be interpreted.

Die siening van taal as besit van die Afrikaanse taalgemeenskap, individueel en kollektief, word in hierdie artikel ondersoek en in verband gebring met die verskeidenheid van variëteite wat in die taalgemeenskap bestaan. Die vertrekpunt is die verskillende benaderings van die sosiolinguistiek, die intellektueelgoederereg en taalbeplanning tot taal as entiteit. In die laaste instansie word daar gefokus op die aard en funksie van standaardtaal as (dikwels omstrede) variëteit en die vraag of die herstandaardisering van Afrikaans as regstelling van historiese gebreke in die standaardiseringsgeskiedenis oorweeg kan word. Dit blyk uit 'n ontleding van alle verbandhoudende faktore dat herstandaardisering 'n relatiewe begrip is en nie gelykgestel kan word aan demokratisering nie (vergelyk Kotzé 2011b), en daar veel effektiewer alternatiewe wyses bestaan om sprekersvariëteite van Afrikaans tot hulle reg te laat kom.

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