Imagining multilingual spaces through scripted 'codeswitching' in multilingual performance: a case study of '7de Laan'
Bhatch, Michael Shakib
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This thesis examines how multilingual spaces in South Africa are imagined and reconstructed through the use of scripted codeswitching in 7de Laan. It explores how the socio-political discourses and other ideologies from the broader South African context shape and influence the ways in which the soap reconstructs multilingual spaces and the identities that exist within these spaces through language and language practices. In the literature presented in this study I explore various theories and case studies that examine Afrikaans and its indexicality in our contemporary society, the conventions of soap opera in representing reality to society, the role of codeswitching in multilingual mass communication, the policies and ideologies that govern post apartheid television and finally the link between ideology, the media, language and imagined identities.. These five overarching themes often overlap throughout this thesis. My investigation of the main questions set in this thesis is based on a triangulated analysis of (a) a five episode transcript of the soap, (b) solicited viewer perceptions gleaned from questionnaires and (c) unsolicited social media commentaries. This analysis is framed by a poststructuralist critical analysis with a specific focus on how social practices and contemporary ideologies manifest in the discourse of the soap. This approach views discourse as the juncture where identity, stereotypes and power are negotiated, enforced, imagined and challenged. In this thesis I argue that the conspicuous absence of indigenous African languages and the use of standard white Afrikaans as the lingua franca in the soap creates an unrealistic utopian portrayal of the new South Africa that naturalises white Afrikaans culture and marginalises other indigenous cultures and languages. I argue that the soap puts middle class white Afrikaners at the epicentre of South African society thus enforcing the idea that non-whites still need to conform to white Afrikaans standards and norms at the expense of their own culture and languages despite the inception of democracy. The soap offers no depictions of resistance to this dominant white Afrikaans culture, thus misleadingly portraying it as the uncontested dominant culture of the new South Africa.