Abstract

South Africa was one of the first countries in the world to include a sexual orientation clause in its Bill of Rights and in 2006 became the first African country to legalise same-sex marriage. Research studies on gay and lesbian speech varieties, however, have thus far been limited to Cage's (2003) pioneering publication of Gayle which is South Africa's English/Afrikaans gay variety and a recent paper on isiNgqumo, its African language equivalent (Rudwick and Ntuli 2008). South Africa's history of segregation and its prevailing multilingualism and multiculturalism, offers particularly intricate social, cultural and linguistic dynamics among sub-cultures in the society, such as the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender) community. Against the background of South Africa's apartheid policy and the history of black homosexuality, this paper explores ethnolinguistic identity constructions involved in the usage of isiNgqumo, a gay linguistic variety spoken by black, predominantly Zulu men. It draws from qualitative interview data with Zulu gay men in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and portrays individual and collective subjectivities. While it is true that the popular view of Zulu ethnicity as a fixed and static group identity is still widely prevalent (Wright 2008: 35), this paper demonstrates some of the multifaceted, flexible, and dynamic nature of current Zuluness in relation to a particular linguistic variety of isiZulu.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1726-1368
Print ISSN
0258-7696
Pages
pp. 112-134
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-02
Open Access
No
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