Author: Deon du Plessis (SADiLaR’s English Researcher) – Original post
“I believe that linguistic and cultural hybridity is our identity.”
The concept of naturalisation is applied to people who immigrate and integrate into a new country to the extent that they are granted citizenship. Nkonko Kamwangamalu uses this framework to describe how (South) African English has been naturalised, in a manner of speaking; it has come to “bear the burden of the speakers’ cultural experience” and acts as a “link language between speakers of various languages”.
This quality of being a link language is expressed through English bonding together speakers who are ethnically or linguistically diverse and may not have another medium of communication in common.
The depth of this relationship may be seen where:
- indigenous words and symbolism are borrowed into English,
- local notions of kinship are expressed through English, where this would not previously have been possible, by creating new terms to express such notions,
- idioms and expressions get carried over into English,
- existing English words get special, new meanings, and
- specific, African turns of phrase are entrenched in the language.
English has been naturalised in South Africa within this framework. We need to think about not seeing it as a competitor to its new compatriots, and instead think how it can exist alongside those compatriots: the indigenous languages of our land.
Note: This post summarises certain aspects of prof. Nkonko M. Kamwangamalu’s (2019) paper titled English as a naturalized African language, which was offered in honour of Braj Kachru in a special issue of the journal World Englishes.
 Kachru, Braj B. 1998. English as an Asian language. Links and Letters, 5: 105.
 Kamwangamalu, Nkonko M. 2019. English as a naturalized African language. World Englishes, 38: p. 116.
 Ibid.: p. 115; italicisation added.
 Ibid.: p. 117.
 Ibid.: p. 119-123
 Ibid.: p. 124