Chapter 12. Homophobic language and linguistic resistance in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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In this chapter I show how language can be used both to objectify those who engage in same-sex relations and to subvert homophobia and heterosexism. The chapter reflects a life history study of eight men who engage in same-sex relations, based on a series of interviews with each man. The study found that language was a key site of struggle, serving both as a mechanism for the regulation of individuals and as a vehicle for strategic ‘resist-stance’. Resist-stance was through the employment of isiNgqumo – a language predominantly spoken by Black ‘gay’ men in South Africa (Rudwick and Ntuli 2008). However, such resist-stance had its own limitations, as the language was associated with certain Communities of Practice, and was not spoken by all the men interviewed. The chapter calls for more sociolinguistic work in this area.


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