Black South African English: where to from here?

De Klerk, V.A. (1999) Black South African English: where to from here? World Englishes, 18 (3). pp. 311-324. ISSN 0883-2919



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Black South African English is generally regarded 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. This paper explores some of the problems involved in defining this variety, problems such as whether it is a `new' variety of English or a dialect, and problems relating to whose English it is: the English of those learners who have encountered only a smattering of English in informal contexts or the variety of English acquired during formal schooling. The second half of the paper focuses on the possible future of Black South African English (BSAE) against the backdrop of South Africa's new multilingual policy. Reasons for the continued appeal of English are examined, alongside the range of factors influencing the possible future growth of BSAE as a distinct variety. It is argued that South Africans are unlikely ever to be free not to learn English, owing to the huge economic, political and ideological constraints which make the `choice' of English inevitable. The success of current efforts to resist value judgements and recognise the worth of BSAE will depend not only on the goodwill of South Africans, and on the cooperation of all speakers of English, world-wide, but on the rate at which the variety drifts away from recognised standard forms of English.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:The definitive version is available at
Uncontrolled Keywords:English language; Black South African English; BSAE; African languages; mother-tongue speakers; multilingual policy; indigenous peoples; South Africa
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > English Language and Linguistics
ID Code:454
Deposited On:15 Nov 2006
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:18
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