Tag Archives: language

Lessons on language while in Beijing

By Curwyn Mapaling Naturally, when you attend a symposium or a conference in another country, you expect to learn, to share, to travel, and to explore. There’s so much to learn when entering a foreign country for the first time – everything is new, everything is interesting. I was recently selected to attend the Yenching…

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Žižek and that strange animal, the human

A fascinating discussion of jealousy, fantasy, animals and utopia, by Slavoj Žižek — the “most dangerous philosopher in the West” (New Republic) — in Living in the End Times (Verso, London, 2010), helps one understand the reasons for our fascination with animals in their “natural” state. This fascination is well-known to most of us —…

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It’s never too late to learn another South African language

Two months ago I decided to learn to speak isiXhosa. This is a big thing for a 53-year-old — some might say impossible. Others might say it is unnecessary. They might be right in strictly practical terms. I don’t need to speak isiXhosa. Very, very seldom do I have to communicate with someone who speaks…

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Luister, you can keep your Oxford scholarship

By Mark John Burke Three years ago, I sat around a dinner table as one of 10 national finalists for five very prestigious scholarships to Oxford. Across from me sat a professor who insisted: “We need to do away with Afrikaans completely. It is the language of the oppressor. We need to start with universities.”…

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Please, mind your language

By Yolanda Mitchell Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms. This is a core value on which the Constitution is founded. Who doesn’t want to live in a country founded on such a noble base? It sounds like the Promised Land after all — especially to as many…

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Teaching and learning in the ‘network society’

Teaching at university in the early 21st century requires of lecturers that they take the “lifeworld” in which students live seriously. This lifeworld comprises what Manuel Castells (2010) calls the “Network Society” (see here) – a global society that has actualised an ever-expanding web or network of electronic means of information and communication. The fact…

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The only clown here is the cartoonist

Everywhere you go, some shit word will collide with you on the wrong side of the road. — Dambudzo Marechera, The Black Insider I have a profound respect for language. Words dream us into being and knit together the world around us. Think of this passage from your trusted King James Bible: “In the beginning…

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Mirror wars

The crime novel I referred to in my last post (The diversity of individuals), Leif Persson’s Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End) is a real treasure trove of wisdom on life, love, good, evil, and a host of other things that really matter. It is much more than just a crime novel; it is a…

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Time to rethink justice in Africa

I recently attended a public lecture by acclaimed author, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, titled The Language of Justice in Africa. The lecture was on how the English language has assumed its powerful status in Anglophone Africa and how the justice systems in these countries, premised on English codes, may actually be miscarrying justice by virtue of…

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The problem is the Englishness*

I teach English. People often have a quizzical look when I respond to the question: “Which subjects do you teach?” (I won’t belabour the race issue that underpins the subtext of the quizzical look seeing as there aren’t many black English teachers in the southern suburbs of Cape Town). I often try to explain to…

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