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Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus (SPiL Plus)

versión On-line ISSN 2224-3380
versión impresa ISSN 1726-541X


SOUTHWOOD, Frenette  y  OOSTHUIZEN, Helena. Afrikaanse taalvariasie: Uitdagings vir regverdige meting van jong kinders se taal. SPiL plus (Online) [online]. 2020, vol.59, pp.81-104. ISSN 2224-3380.

Approximately 5% of children show a language delay (Law, Boyle, Harris, Harkness and Nye 2000), and there are indications that this figure is higher in South Africa, especially amongst very young children (Van der Linde, Swanepoel, Sommerville, Glascoe, Vinck and Louw 2016). There are no adequate instruments with which to ascertain which young Afrikaans-speaking children will require assistance to overcome future language-related academic problems. This article reports on the challenges experienced owing to Afrikaans language variation during the development of a parent questionnaire with which the language acquisition of young children can be measured. This questionnaire comprises questions on early developing communicative gestures, first words, and early grammatical constructions, and parents are requested to indicate on the list which gestures, words and constructions their child comprehends and/or produces. The length of the questionnaire needs to be contained, because the completion of the questionnaire should remain a realistic task for parents, also for those with low literacy levels. Decisions regarding the inclusion or exclusion on the questionnaire of the words found in specific varieties of Afrikaans are however often not straightforward. Existing language assessment instruments the world over typically discriminate against children who are not part of the dominant culture and language community. Given South Africa's stained history with regard to the recognition of speakers of non-standardised language varieties (cf., e.g., Hendricks 2012; Williams 2016), the compiling of a valid parental questionnaire is non-negotiable. It is thus necessary to consider carefully which words should appear on the list, because a good parental questionnaire can contribute to culturally and linguistically fair language assessment of young Afrikaans-speaking children. Such a questionnaire will assist in identifying children who struggle to acquire their language and who need extra assistance in order for their language to improve sufficiently before the commencement of their school careers. That way, they will have a better chance of accessing the curriculum, of experiencing academic success, and of having a sufficiently long school career to realise their potential.

Palabras clave : Afrikaans; parent questionnaire; child language acquisition; language variety; CDI.

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