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Title:'When you hang out with the guys they keep you in style': the case for considering style in descriptions of South African tsotsitaals
Authors:Hurst, Ellen
Mesthrie, RajendISNI
Periodical:Language Matters: Studies in the Languages of Africa (ISSN 1022-8195)
Geographic term:South Africa
nonverbal communication
urban society
Abstract:The collection of South African urban language phenomena called Tsotsitaal, Scamtho, Ringas (in short 'Tsotsitaals') etc, have been described differently as code-switching, mixed languages, or essentially slang vocabulary. These descriptions however, fail to acknowledge the centrality of performance to these phenomena. Tsotsitaals draw on extra-linguistic modes of identity performance such as body language, clothing, and other facets of what could commonly be called 'style'. This article uses N. Coupland's (2007) description of style to understand how tsotsitaals can be viewed as discursive practices performed to achieve social meaning. The research draws on fieldwork conducted in Cape Town in 2006-2007 to expand our understanding of tsotsitaals. It considers perceptions of the style associated with tsotsitaals from the viewpoint of both speakers and listeners in a township community in Cape Town. The authors argue that current terminology used for varieties of this sort is inadequate to describe the combination of performance, lexicon and style associated with tsotsitaals. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Journal abstract]