English, just another language

2017-05-17 06:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

IT was disappointing to read snide comments from social media trolls mocking the minister of finance’s wife Nomachule Gigaba on her inarticulacy to express­ herself in the Queen’s English.

Gigaba had an exclusive interview with ENCA that aired on Sunday and set tongues wagging on social media with people labelling her “un-smart” because she did not have a twang and her pronunciations and accent were “incorrect”.

We have seen this happen before with soccer players and musicians like Mandoza and recently, Babes Wodumo, who were mocked on social media and inspiring memes because they can’t speak English fluently.

Firstly, South Africa has 11 official languages and scores of unofficial ones. Trolls need to stop perpetuating the stereotype that speaking good English is a measure of intelligence.

To be intelligent refers to a person’s ability to exercise brain power, it means they are able to grasp concepts and build ideas on them. English is simply a language. The most universally useful, commonly spoken, accepted and respected language no doubt – but just a language nonetheless.

A limited vocabulary does not certify anyone’s level of intelligence, in fact intelligence is being able to recognise and respect each other’s differences. This includes differences in language.

Why do we ridicule those who make an effort to speak in English but marvel and clap for other races when they attempt to converse in any of the African languages as if it’s something extraordinary.

I saw disrespectful comments on Twitter with some users even suggesting that Noma should never speak in public again and others wanting to know what school she attended so they do not send their children there.

This obsession with English must stop, I think the important thing when speaking in a second or third language is that you make sense and the person you are conversing with is able to understand you. Flowery expressions are only designed to make the speaker sound more educated than they actually are - they are not a guarantee of their intelligence.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.