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Politics of Language in COVID-19 : Multilingual Perspectives from South Africa

Title data

Rudwick, Stephanie ; Sijadu, Zameka ; Turner, Irina:
Politics of Language in COVID-19 : Multilingual Perspectives from South Africa.
In: Politikon : South African Journal of Political Studies. Vol. 48 (2021) Issue 2 . - pp. 242-259.
ISSN 0258-9346

Abstract in another language

This study is based on a discourse analysis of official COVID-19 addresses by South African national government ministers with a focus on linguistic choices. While access to healthcare is an obvious issue of social justice during the pandemic, language plays a covert role in processes of access and inequality. Linguistic understanding influences social participation and during an epidemic crisis, access to language plays a significant role in improving responses of affected individuals. Although English is widely accepted as a common lingua franca in the country, it excludes those who are not proficient in the language. In this article, we analyse code-switching practices, translanguaging, and increasing African language usage among ministers of parliament during official COVID-19 speeches and briefings. We argue that the growing use of multilingual resources among South African politicians carries ramifications on language politics, i.e. a shift away from an unquestioned monolingual discourse purporting English as ‘the’ lingua franca which has in the past characterised most national speeches. From this new multilingual perspective, the pandemic has effected an inward orientation rather than the previously dominating concern with international relations.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: COVID-19; language; politics; translanguaging; social justice
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature > Chair African Studies I
Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 300 Social sciences > 300 Social sciences, sociology and anthropology
300 Social sciences > 320 Political science
400 Language > 400 Language
400 Language > 490 Other languages
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2021 07:33
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2022 11:17