n Journal for Language Teaching = Ijenali Yekufundzisa Lulwimi = Tydskrif vir Taalonderrig - Linguistic penetration at Schneider's Phase 4 : acceptability ratings of entrenched features of Black South African English by South Africans outside the originating culture of the variety

Volume 45, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0259-9570



This study has its theoretical roots at the juncture between World Englishes theory, Black South African English (BSAE) as a variety of English, and pedagogy. The study determined acceptability ratings (AR) of selected, entrenched features of BSAE by L1 English and Afrikaans-speaking South African education students in their third year of university. Tolerance for features of BSAE in formal, academic writing suggests that a wider acceptance of BSAE is emerging. I argue that even a low level of acceptance of features of BSAE by this sample group can suggest linguistic convergence and initial entry into Phase 4 of Schneider's (2009) Dynamic Model of Postcolonial Englishes. This is indicative of a wider acceptance of features of BSAE beyond the originating members of the variety.

The study evaluates responses by L1 English and Afrikaans-speaking student teachers at a tertiary institution in Gauteng to a questionnaire based on a list of characteristic features of Black South African English (BSAE) adapted from De Klerk and Gough (2002:362). Students were required to indicate the statements they would mark as incorrect in formal, academic writing and to identify the single feature which they regarded as the most in need of remediation. The findings indicate (up to 26%) that students outside the racial category of 'black' are tolerant of certain entrenched features (extension of progressive, no singular or third person indicative present, phrases such as 'X's first time' and omission of the article) of BSAE. This suggests that the variety is gaining momentum as certain features are beginning to be tolerated even in formal, written, academic contexts at university level. If features are penetrating segments of the South African population outside of the originating culture it can be argued that there is some movement of the variety towards Schneider's Phase 4 of endonormative standardization of BSAE. However, other entrenched features of BSAE (the use of too and very much as intensifiers, the use of resumptive pronouns and gender conflation in pronouns) received a 0% AR. The pedagogic implications of this non-acceptance are discussed.

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