WhenApril 28, 2017 03:30 PM - 05:00 PM
WhereRosenwald Hall, Room 011
Contact InformationDepartment of Linguistics
Description"Why Hasn't French Thrived in South Africa?"

Cécile B. Vigouroux (Simon Fraser University/University of Chicago)

Although South Africa is usually not associated with French and Francophone matters, its modern history is marked by a strong relation with the French and the Francophones, from the Huguenots in the 17th century, followed by French Mauritians two centuries later, to more recent waves of Africans coming from former French and Belgium colonies since the late 1980’s. Unlike its German counterpart, which was introduced to the Cape colony around the same time and under the same conditions, French has never indigenized nor, least of all, is it still spoken as a native or ethnic language by descendants of former settlers. On the contrary, it has lost grounds despite significant and constant migrations of Francophones to major South African urban centers.

Through a socio-historical analysis of the three migrations, I explore the factors that triggered the loss of French as a vernacular in favor, earlier, of Dutch, which would become Afrikaans, and, later, of English. I also examine how, in some social settings, it is now losing its importance to African vehicular languages such as Lingala and Swahili among the more recent Francophone African migrants. In this comparative analysis, I wish to articulate some specific ways in which language vitality can be sustained and language speciation can develop in a given political and economic ecology.
CategoriesConferences/Lectures, Meetings, Workshops
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