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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: November 2019

Chapter 15 - English Prepositions in isiXhosa Spaces: Evidence from Code-Switching

from III - Language Interfaces


This chapter explores the consequences on isiXhosa of its long contact with the socio-politically dominant English language. It is shown that after nearly two centuries of English hegemony isiXhosa speakers have become increasingly bilingual in English and regularly switch between English and isiXhosa in their daily conversations. This in turn has led to heavy borrowing from English into isiXhosa. Based on code-switching data drawn from twenty naturally occurring conversations recorded in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape, the chapter reveals that English prepositions occur regularly in isiXhosa speech, including in contexts that would easily qualify as isiXhosa monolingual speech. The occurrence of these English closed-class items in isiXhosa spaces suggests that English has or is about to penetrate the grammatical structure of isiXhosa. The findings of this study point to a possible weakening of isiXhosa grammatical structure under heavy pressure from the more dominant English language.

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