South African Journal of African Languages

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‘Welcome to proper mall’: The language on signs in Diepsloot, Johannesburg

Tessa Dowling


Diepsloot is home to diverse groups of people, most from within South Africa’s borders but many from outside. The fact that it was created very recently, in 1994, means that newly arriving residents have no presumptions about officially established languages for the area. This article presents a statistical survey of the languages used on signage in Diepsloot, using a corpus of photographs taken in the township’s most densely populated areas, with specific reference to domains of usage. Using current geosemiotic theories, it draws certain conclusions about why English has emerged as the most dominant code and why African languages are less visible.

South African Journal of African Languages 2014, 34(1): 87–95
AJOL African Journals Online