Language contact and linguistic change: The case of Afrikaans and English influence on isiNdebele

  • K.S. Mahlangu


Adoption is an unavoidable type of linguistic behaviour that occurs when two or more languages are in a state of contact with each other. Adoption is the introduction of single words or short frozen phrases from one variety (i.e. language) into the other. Adoption goes together with adaptation. There are different levels of adaptation, but this article focuses on adoptives which are fully indigenised. As such they are incorporated into the grammatical system of the borrowing language, treated as part of its lexicon, assume its phonological and morphological characteristics and enter into its syntactic structures. Numerous studies in African languages have illustrated that lesser developed languages have benefitted from the adoption of items from other languages. IsiNdebele, as one of the lesser developed indigenous languages of South Africa, has been in close contact with Afrikaans and English for many years and has adopted and adapted items from a number of word categories, such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, relatives and conjunctions. This article investigates and discusses the adoption and adaptation of Afrikaans and English words by isiNdebele. The discussion focuses mainly on the various word categories in Afrikaans and English that isiNdebele has adopted items from, lexicalisation of Afrikaans phrases and the syntactic influence of Afrikaans on isiNdebele.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2305-1159
print ISSN: 0257-2117