Multilingualism in late-modern Cape Town
Williams, Quentin E.
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In highly mobile societies, the voice and agency of speakers will differ across contexts depending on the linking of forms and functions. This thesis is thus about the complexities introduced to the notion of (form-function linkages) multilingualism in late-modern globalizing and mobile Cape Town in transition. Essentially, it takes its point of departure in the idea that multilingualism is a 'spatial concept', i.e. the form that interacting languages take, how they are practiced by speakers and how multilingualism is perceived, is determined to a large extent by the affordanees of particular 'places'. In order to research this, I postulate that a major parameter in the organization and differentiation of places is that of scale. The thesis studies two research sites that can be considered as diametrical opposites on a scale from local (descaled) to translocal (upscaled), namely Hip-Hop performances at Stones, Kuilsriver, and Mzoli's Meat at Gugulethu. Although both sites are found in local townships, they differ in terms of their basic semiotics. That is to say, to what extent the interactions, physical spaces, and activities, are infused with local meaning and local values (downscaled in the case of Hip-Hop) - granted this may be a problematic concept - and to what extent the semiotics of place areoriented towards upscaling or transnational values and practices (upscaled in the case of Mzoli's Meat). Each of these sites is characterized in terms of the assemblage of trans modal semiotics that contribute to defining it as a place of descaling and upscaling (buildings, linguistic landscapes, patterns of interaction and movement and posture, stylizations of selves, artifactual identities (car makes, et cetera). We find that the Hip-Hop site is 'predominantly' local in branding, in who participates, and in the linguistic landscape and the aesthetics of photographic embroidery. Mzoli's Meat, on the other hand, with its ATMs, sit-down-for-tourist-spaces, and international website, is very much more upscaled. A discussion of 'normative orders of multilingualism' pertinent or dominant in each site is also provided. Thus in the local or descaled site of Hip-Hop, a core ordering of multiple languages is in terms of economic value (consumption) with respect to what each language, or variety of language, contributes to 'keeping it real', that is, creating 'extreme locality'. Repertoires are 'ordered' - discussed - and seen to evolve and gain value in terms of a particular social trajectory of speakers, namely their trajectory and history - as temporally narrated - towards becoming a Hip-Hop head and a key actor in 'keeping it rear. In the context of Mzoli's Meat, the semiotics of the upscaled market generate talk about and perceptions of multilingualism in terms of the translocal encounter -linguistic/multilingual repertoires are seen as relevant to, or organized along the lines, of the temporary encounter, and in respect to the value of the languages in facilitating translocal engagements (Dutch, English). Thus, we note how the notion of repertoire is a fluid concept that can be organized and talked about in relation to different standards, trajectories, determined by normative orders of different scaled spaces. Returning to the key question addressed of how these spaces are semiotically constituted and how they constrain or 'prototypically' facilitate particular kinds of voice and agency in more detail, the thesis introduces key concepts of performance, stylization, entextualization and enregisterment. A key feature of doing or constituting places from spaces is the kind of interactions, participants and linguistic eonstruals/productions that take place there. In a highly multilingual society, places/spaces are often normatively contested or contestable. The theoretical concepts provide the framework for charting how different personae are voiced through, that is, entextualized and stylized in the interaction of different languages (in relation to the normative order or in how the combination of languages in voices and their competition more or less successfully enacted or perform the personae/voice), and how these voices/personae are enreqistered, thatis, the competitive processes in the linguistic conventionalization of the voices, and in the simultaneous construction of the downscaled and upscaled spaces. Thus, in the Hip-Hop context, the multilingual voices are designed to produce local personae, whereas in Mzoli's Meat, the performed personae on linguistic display are various and normatively transgressing, emphasizing polycentric normativities as against the mono centric normativity of the downscaled and extreme local context. Enregisterment is shown in the Hip-Hop context to be driven by the construction of extreme locality, whereas in Mzoli's Meat, the performance by the comedian of translocal and mobile voices serve to enregister a translanguaged variety of multilingualism. Thus, we see here how different normative orders of multilingualism (that is different values, forms and combinations oflanguages) that are afforded by the scaled nature of particular places, are layered into and through different social personae or voices. In fact, it is the (semiotic) work in stylizing and entextualizing these voices, and in enregistering them that help produce these differently scaled places (in conjunction with other semiotic means as noted above). How then do these findings inform the issue of linguistically mediated agency in mobile societies? Much politics takes place outside of the formal spheres and institutions of society. Popular spaces are central political sites where a variety of everyday micro and macro-sociopolitical issues are dealt with. In this thesis, we find among other issues dealt with is that 'authenticity' within the Hip-Hop context is a predominant issue, and in Mzoli's Meat, the social political issues of the day are racialized encounters and their implications. In each of these sites, language and multilingualism is paramount in (a) positioning political interests (through personae and voices) and (b) in contesting and working through the normativities of the place in question. Thus, agency emanates from the ability of the speaker to appropriately position the (linguistically mediated) voice/personae in a contested and scaled space in a way that this voice becomes enregistered, and thus legitimated and 'heard'. This is a process of possible transgression - or at least competition - on the one hand, as well as creative 'conformity' or repetition of registers and repertoires according to fluid, constructed normativities. What this then reveals is the value of a concept of linguistic or multilingual citizenship, which is here taken to refer to the agency constituted through non-institutional means where language negotiations are transgressive and central to the creation of a normative order of (local) voices. Therefore, this thesis provides an insight into the complexities of agency (en registered, scaled voice) in mobile, multilingual and scaled Cape Town.