Language is the river that courses through nationhood and state

2017-09-28 06:01
OPINIONThembile Ndabeni

OPINIONThembile Ndabeni

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One of the most potent weapons in the arsenal of the coloniser is to take away the language sense of the colonised.

In countries like Angola and Mozambique, some citizens have lost their mother-tongue to the point where they speak only Portuguese, which is the official language.

I do not think they feel good. Language is one of the foremost features that define people as a nation.

In most countries, the indigenous language is referred to as the mother-tongue.

In South Africa, Blacks do not seem to appreciate their own languages.

Out of the 11 official languages, nine are recognised as indigenous.

Languages play a large part in the existence of humanity, albeit they are not the only feature.

In essence, loss of language means loss of identity.

This is because people are defined and given names in accordance with a particular language.

There are certain aspects that connect people to their tribes, even as it comes to behavioural features.

If, by any chance one is seen as being wayward according to the norms that define their Zuluness, for an example, other would retort: “ungu mZulu kahle?”

Be that as it may, Blacks generally despise who they are and want to be somebody else.

Slang is the patois of youth in any society. This is used especially to throw off adult persons from understanding what is being spoken about.

Likewise, take the example of pick-pocketers. They normally use a language viewed as foreign even to its speakers, if only to hit them hard at their wallets.

It is as referred to as tsotsi-taal in South African, while cold-switch is the term used in America.

Isjita is another term used, but among those who use the language itself.

This parlance, interestingly, is a mixture of English and Afrikaans.

“Ndisharp”, “ndigrand”, “ek se” and so on.

I remember a day in 1995, and two ladies were chasing a train. One exclaimed: “izakuthesta Mapinga”, instead of “you won’t make it, Mampinga”.

From some circles it’s not about speaking the language but about being accepted regardless of gender, age, belief and creed. Joking with youth about “slang “is different from speaking slang.

Children normally take after an adult, and your demeanour has a lot to do whether they will respect or throw scorn on you.

It looks like slang will one day overwhelm other languages in South Africans, and it would seem that Blacks are being casual as far as this phenomenon is concerned.

My concern is that this casualness with language does not exist in other ethnic groups.

Afrikaners are too guarded in their language, and are prepared to fight tooth and nail for its survival.

If Black languages do die down, it would be like a tragedy.

And if that happens, the endeavours of the Pan South African Language Board would have been futile.

It would also mean there has been a great waste of money forked out by the taxpayers of the country, which could d have been utilized for better services.

If this persists, we should not complain when the government, state, officials misuse or squander funds or resources of the state.

The first step to loss of identity is language, followed by loss of nationality.

In essence one of the central features of defining a nation is their language.

Let us not betray the sacrifices of our Struggle heroes by losing language.


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