"You can't write in Kaapse Afrikaans in your question paper ... the terms must be right": race- and class-infused language ideologies in educational places on the Cape Flats

SOURCE: Educational Research for Social Change
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 10385
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/12249
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11910/12249

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Language is integral to educational processes because it forms the basis for classroom communication and the medium for knowledge transfer. However, language is imbued with race- and class-related ideologies: ideas about 'proper' and 'educated' uses of language. Language ideologies are shaped by the linguistic norms of powerful groups and are based on political rather than linguistic factors. In this paper, I explore how language ideologies operated in three educational sites on the Cape Flats. Multisite ethnography was used to research language ideologies in classrooms, amongst a hip-hop group, and at a youth radio show. Participants in the study spoke a variety of Afrikaans known as Kaapse Afrikaans, which differs from the standard Afrikaans inscribed in the school curriculum. The research showed that language ideologies were perpetuated through semiotic processes known as iconicity, recursiveness, and erasure. Through iconicity, Rosemary Gardens youths' language was inextricably linked to colouredness' - mixed race and language with low status attributed to both. Whereas standard Afrikaans was described as 'pure, high, proper, and real', Kaapse Afrikaans was recursively depicted as 'low, deficient and slang'.These semiotic processes functioned to erase young people's use of language at schools, particularly repressing Kaapse Afrikaans in its written form. On certain occasions, the hip-hop group used language freely as they commented on their local environments. Powerful linguistic ideologies will continue to denigrate marginalised youth, even if radical teachers and hip-hop culture dismiss them. Educators should, therefore, both endorse the linguistic resources youth bring to classrooms and arm them with powerful forms of language and knowledge that hold power elsewhere.