Tag Archives: language

Panayza Lesufi displays his lack of understanding of what a language is all about

I feel sorry for the ANC, to have an MEC for education in Gauteng who displays his ignorance of what a language is, fundamentally, for all and sundry to see. As has been widely reported, he has opined that the establishment of a Solidarity and community-funded Afrikaans-medium university would “perpetuate racist agendas”, and would be…

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Another important European conference for Afrikaans-speaking philosophers

About two years ago I wrote a piece for this site on an important conference for Afrikaans in Europe, which was held in Gent, Belgium, by the NAWG (Nederlands-Afrikaanse Wijsgerige Vereniging, or the Netherlands-Afrikaans Philosophical Society). We are at this biennial conference again, this time in Leiden, Holland, from where it will rotate to South…

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Metaphors (as models), and our own ‘networked’ existence

In The Prison-House of Language (Princeton University Press, 1972) Fredric Jameson opens the Preface with the following thought-provoking remark (p. v): The history of thought is the history of its models. Classical mechanics, the organism, natural selection, the atomic nucleus or electronic field, the computer: such are some of the objects or systems which, first…

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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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