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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

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


BASSON, Earl. Restandardisation by means of school textbooks in order to legitimise Cape Afrikaans. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2022, vol.62, n.4, pp.766-790. ISSN 2224-7912.

The discourse on the restandardisation of Afrikaans often raises the issue of the negative consequences of a hegemonic standard variety in the Afrikaans classroom and how the school system has been using teaching materials such as textbooks to protect the point of view that the standard language is the only legitimate language. Various educators, researchers, linguists, artists, and language activists have spoken out about how Standard Afrikaans (Standaardafrikaans) alienates learners who are speakers of Cape Afrikaans and how drastic changes to the language form of Standard Afrikaans and language functions ofvarieties such as Cape Afrikaans are needed so that Afrikaans can serve the entire Afrikaans-speaking community. Yet the school context and textbooks are predominantly underutilised as a source of language legitimation in the course of the current discussion on restandardisation. Bearing in mind Haugen's (1987:637) view that changes to the language form should be implemented by educational institutions, this conceptual article investigates how the inclusion of Cape Afrikaans in textbooks can legitimise this variety and ultimately advance the restandardisation of Afrikaans. First, Odendaal's (2012:125-126) theoretical exposition of the concept of "restandardisation" is discussed. From her definition, the conclusion is made that restandardisation could be a social restitution aimed at democratising Afrikaans by using varieties such as Cape Afrikaans as a source to expand the standard variety. The democratisation of Afrikaans entails that varieties like Cape Afrikaans must be destigmatised by introducing it in authoritative spaces such as the education system. In this way, the prestige of the varieties is increased, and it is established as a legitimate form of Afrikaans. It is argued that textbooks possess discursive qualities that offer productive possibilities to promote the restandardisation of Afrikaans by establishing Cape Afrikaans as a legitimate language form. These discursive qualities of textbooks are explored, as well as how textbooks as linguistic resources bring about legitimation. Textbooks act as a form of discourse because they are presented in a specific language variety and take the form of a series of thematic and ideologically structured communications that circulate between a specific community of communicators. As the production of textbooks is controlled by the dominant groups and institutions (the publishing industry and/or state approval committees), textbooks tend to reflect the ideologies of the dominant group. A textbook therefore functions on the one hand as an instrument that contains knowledge considered legitimate by political authorities and on the other hand it forms part of socialisation processes. One of the primary functions of a discourse (here: in the form of textbooks) is to influence the experiences of the participants in the discursive practice (here: learners who work from the textbook). By using a specific language or language variety in textbooks, textbook users are socialised to regard such a specific language or language variety as the legitimate language, because the legitimate knowledge - as set out in the school curriculum - is presented in that particular language or language variety. Similar to discourse, textbooks are thus not only modelled on social values and traditions, but they also possess the ability to shape social beliefs and values. Fairclough (1995:131) argues that discursive practices - such as compiling and using textbooks - act in socially reproductive and socially transformative ways. Depending on the socio-political circumstances, textbooks have the ability to perpetuate existing social beliefs, or they can transform existing beliefs by exposing users to new knowledge and insights. Furthermore, textbooks also comply with Van Leeuwen 's (2007:92) exposition of linguistic resources that bring about legitimation. Textbooks are linguistic resources 1) that are used by persons with institutional authority (educators) 2) during institutionalised social interaction (the teaching-learning process) 3) while containing official and approved knowledge that reflects the values and beliefs of society 4) and at the same time possessing the ability to influence users' scholastic success. This article explores how textbooks can be used as resources to legitimatise Cape Afrikaans. Drawing on Odendaal's (2012:462) restandardisation framework as a theoretical point of departure, this article illustrates how textbooks in the relevant phases can promote the legitimation of Cape Afrikaans and, ultimately, the restandardisation of Afrikaans.

Palavras-chave : standard language; restandardisation; Standard Afrikaans; Cape Afrikaans; démocratisation; variety; legitimate language; textbooks; discursive practice; school.

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