n Ubuntu : Journal of Conflict and Social Transformation - The alienation effect of the English language on the black South Africans in post-apartheid South Africa : an impediment towards realizing functional academic attainment and socio-economic benefits

Volume 8 Number Special Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2078-760X
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4950



This article examines the extent to which both the functionally illiterate and functionally literate in the usage, from of the English language from among the black majority are not spared of the alienating effect of the English language for varying reasons. I argue, in this article, that from the ushering of democracy into post-apartheid South Africa, the English language has had (and continues to do so) an alienating effect on the majority of black South Africans regardless of their social positioning in society. In this article, I examine the alienation effect of the English language on black South Africans, both young and old, in post-apartheid South Africa. This alienation effect is construed as an impediment to the aspirations of many a young black student to pursue and realize functional academic attainment. Notably, the effect of this alienation is not to the exclusion of many an adult black South African whose quest, among other things, is to derive socio-economic benefits for his/her articulate linguistic standing as attested to by the individual's rendition of his or her linguistically oriented performative social acts. This precarious situation of the black majority who have attained commendable communicative competence in English is manifested when these articulate black South Africans assert their agency which should of necessity derive from the fact that they have attained 'linguistic citizenship'. Arguablya pragmatic view of language use, 'linguistic citizenship' affords the individual within the collective the requisite space to exercise 'a greater degree of autonomy or agency' both of which affirm the individual's inalienable right to individuated interests. With a greater degree of mobility being functionally illiterate in the English language more often than not leads to significant degrees of marginalization and limited access to resources. Notably, 'this has the tendency of precluding people from exercising their agency and voice (Gorter et al, 2013).

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