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Changing language practices in parliament in South Africa

NISC Pty Ltd
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  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics


This paper responds to the following question: What kind of English is regarded as 'acceptable' in the Hansard unit of parliament in South Africa today? It seeks to highlight the overt and covert policies in relation to standard English and indicates to what extend notions of acceptability have expanded in recent years. I refer to the sociolinguistic and anthropological method of investigation used. Some data is displayed in order to demonstrate the degree of diversity in terms of English usage in parliament today. Certain forms of English now regarded as 'new' or 'non-standard' have been in existence for decades, but were left unrecognised because they only appeared in institutional contexts after 1994. I argue in favour of relaxed boundaries and norms and an inclusive notion of English which reflects a uniquely South African identification process. (S/ern Af Linguistics & Applied Language Studies: 2003 21(3): 103-117)

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