Home Institution

George Washington University

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

South Africa: Multiculturalism and Social Change


The following paper examines some of the ways in which Afrikaans-speakers have begun to renegotiate Afrikaans-speaking identity and community in reaction to a perceived decline in Afrikaans in post-apartheid democratic South Africa. It also examines the values of re-negotiating Afrikaans for a multilingual South Africa.

The data was obtained through interviews with four Afrikaans-speaking South Africans who connect with the language both as a mother-tongue speaker and as players in renegotiating its role through empowerment efforts, blogging, and creating positive language policy and programming.

I have concluded that the renegotiation of Afrikaans involves depoliticizing and consciously separating Afrikaans from ideologies of oppression, racism, standard-language hierarchies, and a history of linguistic conflict, while still recognizing that these ideologies exist and are significant barriers to de-racializing the Afrikaans movement and creating a true Afrikaans-community. However, successful creation of an Afrikaans-language community alongside the promotion of other language communities has great potential for successfully building a multilingual and multicultural nation of South Africa.


Anthropological Linguistics and Sociolinguistics


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