Article

Reading between the lines: Hegemonic favouring within language-related communities

DOI: 10.2989/16073614.2017.1302352
Author(s): Alta EngelbrechtDepartment of Humanities Education, South Africa

Abstract

Based on the assumption that a struggle to protect the interests of dominant groups exists in all communities, this qualitative study investigates hegemonic favouring in two language-related speech communities. Through the perspectives of focus group participants, the article reports on the discourses in Flemish and Afrikaans communities where certain ideas are presented as a matter of course – as though no alternative exists. In the Flemish focus group discussion, silences surrounding diversity issues were revealed, indicating that a healthy, diverse society where people learn from one another was not yet part of the Flemish psyche. Flemish monolingualism serves as a vehicle for stereotyping the linguistically dissimilar, and is used to maintain hegemonic practices. Demythologisation of Afrikaans history and Standard Afrikaans as undisputed norm freed the language of its previous apartheid enclaves. The pain of coloured speakers of Afrikaans having to dissociate with their home language was foregrounded in the discussion, as well as the fact that there are still many instances where whiteness is the norm against which other ethnic positions are contrasted.

Get new issue alerts for Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies