Creole Language in Creole Literatures
  • ISSN 0920-9034
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9870
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From the 1820s humorous representations of the local vernacular began to appear in the periodical press of the Cape Colony. These popular texts developed into a highly productive genre and influenced the formation of an early Afrikaans written norm by shaping expectations of social, linguistic and local authenticity. Whereas the early vernacular representations fall largely into the category of racist parodies or ‘mock language’ (Hill 1995), later texts were intended as projections of the colonists' own ‘voice’. Using LePage's concept of linguistic focusing (cf. LePage & Tabouret-Keller 1985), Coupland's (2001) notion of stylization, and Gal and Irvine's (2000) semiotic principles of iconization and erasure, this paper argues that linguistic forms which were propagated as ‘authentic’ representations of local speech in the popular literature came to be used as conventionalized ideological resources in non-literary texts and contributed to the gradual formation and diffusion of a written norm at the Cape. The data basis for the analysis includes early literary texts (1828–1889), theCorpus of Cape Dutch Correspondence(1880–1922, cf. Deumert, 2001, 2004) as well as a small, pragmatically cohesive corpus of application letters for the position of a nanny in the house of Colin Steyn (1923/1924).


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