Towards a norm in South African Englishes: the case for Xhosa English

De Klerk, V.A. (2003) Towards a norm in South African Englishes: the case for Xhosa English. World Englishes, 22 (4). pp. 463-481. ISSN 0883-2919



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Black South African English (BSAE) is generally regarded today as the variety of English commonly used by mother-tongue speakers of South Africa's indigenous African languages in areas where English is not the language of the majority. Its roots lie in the history of the teaching of English to the black people of this country, where the role models who teach English are second language learners themselves. To date, BSAE has mainly been studied within an applied linguistic framework with emphasis on its character as a second language which is deviant from standard English. An alternative view is to see it as a variety in its own right, a new or world English (Coetsee Van Rooy and Verhoef, 2000; van der Walt and van Rooy, 2002). As a consequence, a new look at norms is becoming increasingly necessary, so that decisions about learners' language competence can be made in terms of this variety. This paper reports on preliminary analyses of a recently collected corpus of Xhosa English (XE) (a sub-category of BSAE) which consists of naturalistic spoken data, and comprises some 540,000 words of Xhosa English. This large database enables empirical analysis of actual patterns of use in language, making it possible to test earlier speculations which have been based on intuition, and to explore the possibility of systematic differences in the patterns of structure and use in this particular variety. The paper focuses on 20 separate linguistic characteristics, most of which have been previously identified in the literature as being features of BSAE, and analyses each of them in turn, in order to ascertain their usage patterns and frequency of occurrence in the corpus.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:The definitive version is available at
Uncontrolled Keywords:African languages; Black South African English; BSAE; Xhosa English; XE; African languages, second language acquisition; usage patterns; South Africa
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > English Language and Linguistics
ID Code:449
Deposited On:02 Nov 2006
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:18
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