The problem statement mainly deals with the curtailment of the high function status of Afrikaans in South Africa since 1994 as this has a negative impact on the six million mother tongue speakers of Afrikaans as well as on non-mother tongue speakers for whom the language has an instrumental value. The question is raised as to whether myth making around Afrikaans can be held partly responsible for this loss in status. The term “myth” and the impact of myths are looked into. “Myth” is not used in this thesis as a “story without ground” (as in the dictionary definition), but, according to the work of Jung, Campbell, Leroux, Malan and others, as a story/narrative that gives voice to man’s search for meaning and significance. The main points of departure are: · The viewpoint of the well-known twentieth-century mythologist, Joseph Campbell, who states: “Myths are stories of our search through the ages for truth, for meaning, for significance (Campbell in Flowers 1988:5); and · The statement of Malan (1978:39) namely that myth has always been the way in which man has tried to explain the sense, significance and purpose of the cosmos by means of a simple narrative. Myth making within groups (Anderson 1991: “imagined communities”) is viewed and the role of of political myth making explicitly stated. In this regard the statement of Leonard Thompson is relevant. Thompson (1985:3) points to two kinds of myths, namely: 1) “conservative myths” (for example about the origins of a group); and 2) “radical myths” (that aim to discredit the regime of “the other”). In the discourse about myths around Afrikaans the point of departure is that the specific myth is regarded as positive or negative in terms of its impact on the status and position of Afrikaans in South Africa. The two “main” myths around Afrikaans are discussed by exemplification and by means of anecdotes and the impact of the said myths on Afrikaans is evaluated. The two myths are: · Afrikaans as mythical binding force in Afrikaner nationalism in (mainly) the first fifty years of the twentieth century; and · Afrikaans as metaphorical language of the oppressor, especially in the period of institutionalized apartheid. The impact of the above myths within various Afrikaans systems (among others the historiography and literature of Afrikaans and the school syllabi) is furthermore exemplified with the purpose of indicating how great this impact has been. Finally the question is asked: ”And now, Afrikaans?” (with acknowledgement to the title of a publication by Hans du Plessis, 1992: “En nou, Afrikaans?”). The conclusion is that the status of Afrikaans in the so-called high language functions is daily under more pressure as a result of the hegemony of English in the country. There should be rational and firm negotiations about this unconstitutional curtailment of the rights of Afrikaans. The speakers of Afrikaans can, however, help to preserve the language by: 1. Living with the myths around Afrikaans in the sense that they develop and demonstrate understanding and empathy for the myths of other groups; 2. Using Afrikaans daily for all functions, especially seeing that Afrikaans is indeed suitably developed to meet any need; and 3. Working towards new myth making around Afrikaans, by – among other things – pointing to the fact that Afrikaans, as a language of Africa, has a greater claim to national language status in South Africa than the international language, English.
Thesis (DLitt (Afrikaans))--University of Pretoria, 2005.