Sociolinguistic Studies, Vol 10, No 1-2 (2016)

Youth multilingualism in South Africa’s hip-hop culture: A metapragmatic analysis

Quentin E. Williams
Issued Date: 4 Jun 2016


This paper describes the practice of youth multilingualism in South Africa’s hip-hop culture, in an online social media space and an advertising space. Based on a multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork study of youth multilingual practices, comprising of the following data sets – multilingual interviews, observations, multilingual interactions and performances, documents and online social networking interactions – the paper reports on how young multilingual speakers active in the hip-hop culture of the country talk and write about the intermixing of racial and ethnic speech forms, as well as use registers in the practice of gendered identities. The argument I put forth in the paper is that the examples of youth multilingualism suggest a complex picture of youth multilingual contact in postcolonial South Africa, and one that require a sociocultural linguistic response that accounts for the cultural influence of youth multilingualisms in local hip-hop culture. To such an end, I suggest that multilingual policy planning in the country should be readjusted to the complex sociocultural changes we see emerge with youth multilingual practices.

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DOI: 10.1558/sols.v10i1-2.27797


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