Ethnographic Evidence of the Social Meaning of Fanakalo in South Africa
The social meaning of Fanakalo (F) and the social motivation for using it in South Africa are the focus of this article. Ethnographic evidence assembled from a range of written sources reveals that largely unfavorable connotations are associated with F. On the strength of this data, the contextual characteristics of the use of F as an unmarked (or preferred) choice are described. It is shown that F is restricted to work (that is, to non-affective domains) and is used in interactions where there is an asymmetrical role and power relationship between the participants (best described as master-servant). Furthermore, F is negatively evaluated by Blacks, who are always the less powerful participants. Also considered is oral ethnographic data, in the form of spontaneous, naturally-occurring interpersonal exchanges and self-reports on why people use F. Examination of this data shows that in marked settings, F is exploited as a conversational resource between South Africans, whether Black or White. It is shown that in marked settings F is a marker of solidarity, whereas in unmarked settings use of the language connotes power and domination.
Published online: 01 January 1993
Cited by 4 other publications
Graber, Kathryn E.
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