What is this colonial tendency?

2011-12-03 11:26

What is it with you English-speaking South Africans, hey? Or some of you at least. Why can you only speak English?

You, your parents and your grandparents were born in this country, you went to school here, you live a good life here. But you still refuse to learn – or speak – any language other than English. No Afrikaans, no Xhosa, no Zulu – nothing! Only English.

A lot of you are like that – fromDurban to Darling. Only English. And then we – the Afrikaners, Zulus or ­Xhosas – must abandon our own ­languages and speak English to you. And then some of you even make jokes about it!

Nearly every day, there is some ­English-speaking personality on the radio who makes fun of the way we, the “other” citizens of this country, speak English. What is so funny about an Afrikaans person who says “hêve” instead of “have”, or “hênd” instead of “hand”? Like Naas Botha when he says: “Well, Dêrren, on duh udder hênd...”

At first you eentalige South Africans mainly made fun of the way us ­Afrikaners speak. But now you have started with black people as well. Is it really funny when a Zulu person says “wek” instead of “work”, or when a Xhosa person says “pea-poel” instead of “people”? Or when some politician talks about “white tendencies”?

Have you ever heard an Afrikaans, Zulu or Xhosa person making jokes on the radio about the way you English South Africans speak Afrikaans or Zulu? It doesn’t happen – nie sommer nie. Aikona.

What happens mostly is that ­non-English speakers switch over to English when one of you is in the ­conversation. If there are, say, 20 ­people in a meeting, and three or four of them are English, that meeting will probably be held in English.

I can sit on my own stoep with my Afrikaans friends, and when an ­English-speaking person comes along, we slaan bol­le­ma­kie­sie and start talking English. We sometimes even start speaking English to each ­other as well when there is a English individual around. Maybe it’s good manners, but wouldn’t it be the best manners if the English person says: “No, prôt maar Ofrikaans. I want to probeer to learn the taal.”

But it rarely happens. You even ­pronounce indigenous South African names in your own way, as if it is the correct way. Take for instance the word “kloof”. It is not an English word, but you pronounce it “kloef”. Even news readers on TV talk about “kloef” and “Bloemfon-tien”, instead of “Bloemfon-tein”.

Most of you don’t even try to pronounce indigenous words and names correctly. Don’t you think it is a little onbeskof of you? I am sorry to say, but some of you English speakers seem to think that there is only one official language in this country. What colonial tendencies are these?

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