*another linguistic rant*

Okay, so Zuma is a fool. I have many rants about the man, but I tend to refrain mostly because there really are no words. But there’s a type of commentary on Jacob Zuma which just gets my blood boiling…

The thing I want to warn against is mocking people for their language skills (you know, the eleventy seven and one thousand etc). Please note – I DO think the president of a country should absolutely NOT struggle with his syntax, grammar, spelling or clarity of thought – but my warning is against mocking people who struggle in general. So I am not defending him, but making a case for others.

Linguistic stuff

Bantu languages (that’s the actual term, although I know some find it offensive – please note this is only my linguistic opinion), are mostly agglutinating or fusional. In a nutshell this means that a singular concept can either be split up into different words over a whole sentence or several concepts can be compounded into one word. It’s more complex than this, but that is the gist. In addition, transitive sentences in most Western languages are usually subject-verb-object (English) or subject-object-verb (Afrikaans), but there are four other ‘constructions’ which most people don’t consider. Add to that etymology, vernaculars and morphology and you start to see the beauty and complexity of language.

Think before you judge

Think about this when you mock someone for mispronouncing numbers or words. Thing is, it’s incredibly hard for a non-native speaker of a language to turn language rules into habit. This is especially true if they haven’t mastered the basics before age 12 (critical age hypothesis – a much debated hypothesis but one which has been the subject of much linguistic research and which I personally support), and if they are used to completely different rules. Afrikaans and English are both Germanic languages, so it’s much easier for speakers of one of these languages to grasp the underlying frameworks of the other. And remember – our brains basically get wired differently based on the languages we speak – the reason why multilingualism is so fantastic – it gives us multiple ‘wirings’. (Read up on the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis – absolutely amazing).

As some wise guy once said (don’t know who), just because someone speaks with an accent doesn’t mean they think with an accent.

Appreciate that non-native speakers are trying and rather learn why they phrase and pronounce things the way they do. It’s incredibly interesting. In most cases you’ll find the other person completely comprehensible if you listen instead of trying to impose your rules on them.

Enough ranting for the day.

#NoJokes #Linguistics #LanguageIsAwesome #ZumaMustFall

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