Translanguaging in kasi-taal: Rethinking old language boundaries for new language planning

Leketi Makalela


This paper examines discursive language practices among Black township natives who consider kasi-taal, a hybrid urban variety from major Black townships in Johannesburg, their home language. Firstly, an analysis of 20 dialogue samples that were collected from second-year university students from five townships reveals that traditional linguistic boundaries between indigenous African languages have been re-negotiated to express expanded views of the self. Secondly, the study shows that expansion of linguistic codes is enhanced by common substrate systems in the Nguni and Sotho languages, lexical borrowings, semantic shifts and morphological derivations from Afrikaans and English as source languages. Using a translanguaging framework, I argue that kasi-taal languaging practices challenge traditional conceptualisations of language and provide a window into future possibilities for merging African languages. Implications for future research based on the study’s findings are highlighted at the end of the paper.


translanguaging, hybridity, kasi-taal, language boundaries, townships

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ISSN 2224-3380 (online); 1726-541X (print)

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