Arts and Humanities | Modern Languages | Modern Literature
Published in PORTAL: Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, Volume 2, Issue 2, July 1, 2005. 20 pages.
This article has been peer reviewed.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Brian Kennelly was affiliated with Webster University. Currently, March 2008, he is Chair and Associate Professor of the Modern Languages and Literatures Department at California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo.
Throughout the twentieth century activists in South Africa for the Afrikaans language struggled with, yet never resolved, the language/people, Afrikaans/Afrikaner issue, as Hermann Giliomee points out in his recent ‘biography’ of the Afrikaners (2003, 389). Was the Afrikaner community a racial or linguistic one? Was the push to promote Afrikaans subordinate to the entrenchment of a white supremacist government and ruling party? Was there a hegemonic or counter-hegemonic relationship between language and ethnicity? If the social identity of the Afrikaner was to be shaped by the acceptance of Afrikaans as a public language on equal footing with English, the creed that the language constitutes the entire people (‘die taal is gans die volk’) had to be race-blind.