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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


BOTHA, Willem J. Is decolonialisation a myth?. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2021, vol.61, n.4-1, pp.1039-1056. ISSN 2224-7912.

South Africa is a former British colony. The British colonial influence expanded over a multitude of facets of a diverse South African community. Initially the English language as a vehicle of education was one of the major contributors to the idealised assimilation of the colonised people. After the Second Anglo-Boer war Lord Alfred Milner, British High Commissioner in South Africa, proclaimed in a letter to the Natal governor that it had been his policy "to make English indispensable in the future, and to prepare the rising generation for that state of affairs by practically compelling them to learn it, but to admit Dutch until the Anglicising process is consummated" (cf. Steyn, 2014:52). In 1961 the Union of South Africa was decolonised and became the Republic of South Africa. Decolonialisation of certain aspects of the South African society took place as a natural outcome. In 1994 an ANC government took over the rule of the country. For the first few years after 1994 changes concerning the South African society, according to the new constitution, took a natural cause. Round about 2016 emotions within specific sections of the community erupted because expectations for a new South Africa (that they imagined) had not been achieved. These beliefs related to the fact that the new South Africa was not as Afrocentric as they wished it to be. Skirmishes took place and slogans like #ScienceMustFall, #FeesMustFall, and#AfrikaansMustFall were often heard. All these slogans accumulated in the slogan #WhitenessMustFall. And the #WhitenessMustFall slogan linked intimately with the demand that South Africa had to be decolonialised because whiteness was associated with former colonists and colonialisation. In almost all the instances of the demands for decolonialisation the verb used was decolonise - as if there were no difference between the meanings of the verbs decolonise and decolonialise. The point of view taken in this article is that there exists a definite difference between the meanings of the two verbs. The difference in the meanings of the two verbs is investigated against the background of theoretical linguistic findings. Firstly, lexical definitions from different dictionaries (Afrikaans, Dutch, German and English) of the relevant verbs and their derivates are scrutinised. It reveals that most of the dictionaries do not make a clear distinction between the different meanings. In some instances, a difference in meanings is only implicitly defined. It results in some confusion. To look for further clarification, a linguistic theoretical approach comes to the fore. Taylor (2002) distinguishes three general approaches to the study of meaning, namely the language-world approach, in which meaning is studied as the relationship between linguistic expressions and states of affairs in the world. Secondly, the language-internal approach, in which meaning is studied in terms of relations between expressions within a language, and thirdly, a conceptualist approach, in which the meaning of an expression is equated with a conceptualisation in the mind of a language user. The language-world approach is not applicable for the examination of the meaning of the relevant verbs; consequently, the scrutinisation is done from the perspective of the language-internal approach and the conceptualist approach. Two linguistic phenomena, namely the grammatical category "aspect" and "conceptual blending" (or integration) are taken into consideration. According to Handke (2014) the "term aspect refers to a grammatical category which reflects the way in which the action denoted by the verb is regarded or experienced with respect to time." Lyons (1968:313) postulates that aspect refers to the distinction of "perfective" and "imperfective", within the meaning ofthe relevant verb, not with regard to the time ofutterance. The analysis of the relevant verbs reveals that colonise and decolonise should be regarded to have perfect aspect, while colonialise and decolonialise exhibit imperfect (durative) aspect. Intricately linked to aspect, the conceptualist approach reveals that the meanings of the verbs colonise and colonialise blend with each other, the former referring to a process that comes to an end and the latter to the continuation of the instigated process referred to by using the verb colonise. In the remainder of the article conceptual differences in different languages are outlined. If one takes the claims of Lakoff and Johnson (1980) seriously, namely that "our concepts structure what we perceive, how we get around in the world, and how we relate to other people" and "our conceptual system ...plays a central role in defining our everyday realities", then the question arises whether it is possible to decolonialise a country with eleven official languages (implicating different conceptual structures) if one of the languages (the colonial language English) is forced upon the peoples of the country - in an effort to decolonialise. Therefore, the question arises whether genuine decolonialisation is only a myth?

Palavras-chave : aspect; meaning; thought structures; colonise; decolonise; colonialise; decolonialise; blending; time; colour.

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