Tag Archives: language

The allure of Louisa Punt-Fouché’s poetry

Poetry is alluring. Who is there so insensitive among us that evocative poetic phrases would not move us? Yes, I know – there are indeed such people, but I believe that even they, when given the opportunity to learn from a gifted teacher, would develop a modicum of receptivity to poetry. Blake’s “He who binds…

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The craving for power

The hankering after power is as old as human beings; no, older – it is as old as the first unicellular being that emerged from the primeval morass of evolution. After all, like all organisms since then, it would have tried its primitive best to survive, to stave off death. And isn’t that already an…

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Language: An emotive issue

Why is language such an emotive issue? Primarily because it goes to the heart of what we are as speaking beings, as Jacques Lacan would no doubt retort. Language is what differentiates between humans and other animals insofar as it is a symbolic system where every signifier (word, image, or gesture) corresponds with a signified…

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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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