Addressing the "standard English' debate in South Africa : the case of South African Indian English.
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This dissertation is an investigation into the 'Standard English' debate in South Africa using South African Indian English (SAlE) as a case study. I examine the 'Standard English' debate from both a sociolinguistic and a syntactic point of view. Since English underwent a process of standardization in the eighteenth century, the concept of 'Standard English' has influenced peoples' attitudes towards different varieties of English and the speakers of those varieties. 'Standard English' has, since this time, been used as a yardstick against which other varieties of English have been judged. In South Africa, where during the apartheid era, language as well as skin colour and ethnicity were used as a basis for discrimination, the 'Standard English' debate and the standard language ideology need to be explored in order to draw attention to areas of potential discrimination. Through an extended review of the literature on the 'Standard English' Debate and a particular focus on South African Indian English, as well as interviews with South African Indian participants, I investigate how the 'Standard English' debate is, more often than not, a debate about ideology, power and inequality, rather than simply about 'good' or 'correct' language usage. I argue that language attitudes are, in many cases, attitudes towards speakers, making them a potential vehicle for discrimination and prejudice. I examine the social history of the South African Indian community and SAIE and argue that the unique history of the South African Indian community has affected the development of SAlE and attitudes towards its speakers, and the attitudes of speakers of SAlE toward their own variety. Furthermore, I explore how this history has affected the syntactic structure of SAlE and provide, through a syntactic analysis of South African Indian English wh-questions, evidence for the fact that these constructions are formed on the basis of a systematic and rule-governed grammar that is different to that of 'Standard English', but is not, as a result of this difference, incorrect.