Tsotsitaal and Decoloniality

Hurst-Harosh, Ellen
Taylor & Francis Group
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African Studies 
African Studies, Vol. 78, No. 1, 2019, pp. 112-125

This article focuses on South African tsotsitaal and other African (Urban) Youth Languages (AYL), which are youth language repertoires or styles of speaking the vernacular, and which are present in a wide range of African countries today. Halliday's (1976) concept of antilanguage has been applied by previous researchers to theorise youth language practices, and is a useful way to understand aspects of these phenomena such as relexicalisation and metaphor. However, the term itself reproduces a monolingual and hegemonic conceptualisation of language, and contributes to a criminal conceptualisation of tsotsitaal speakers. This article proposes that alternative ways to describe and understand AYL phenomena are needed. By applying the conceptual framework of 'decolonial thinking', the article makes the case that tsotsitaal, AYLs and youth language in general, challenge forms of dominant power and oppression, and for this reason, might be considered as 'decolonial practice'.

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CITATION: Hurst-Harosh, Ellen. Tsotsitaal and Decoloniality . Oxon : Taylor & Francis Group , 2019. African Studies, Vol. 78, No. 1, 2019, pp. 112-125 - Available at: http://library.africa-union.org/tsotsitaal-and-decoloniality

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