South African Journal of African Languages

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Language contact in African urban settings: The case of Sepitori in Tshwane

Thabo Ditsele, Charles C Mann


There is undisputed evidence that the use of so-called non-standard varieties of language in South Africa is on the increase, and serves as an important communication bridge for a supranation that has many people of different ethnicities living side-by-side in different urban settings in the country. This paper illustrates, using Sepitori (also called ‘Pretoria Sotho’) as a case in point, that non-standard varieties should be explored further with a view to institutionally recording, formalising and supporting them. The paper does this through, first, showing that Sepitori is a mixed language that is used as a lingua franca by many people; second, by re-visiting the literature that demonstrates the important and crucial role played by non-standard varieties in a multilingual society, such as, South Africa, particularly with regard to formal settings (e.g., classrooms, formal meetings, and the media); and, third, by using the strength of such literature to call for a change in attitudes by language purists, who should realise that the sooner non-standard varieties are allowed space beyond the use in informal settings, the better it would be for further development of standard varieties.

South African Journal of African Languages 2014, 34(2): 159–165
AJOL African Journals Online