Post-grad Research

A major part of the activity in UPSET centres around the research of our post-graduate students. Our students have already made major contributions to scholarship in their field, with numerous publications emanating from the dissertations, and various awards. Since 2011, four students in UPSET won the award for best MA dissertation (ABSA Bronze medal up to 2014, Vice-Chancellor’s Medal since 2015): Lize Terblanche (2011), Johanita Kirsten (2013), Natasha Ravyse (2014) and Caroline Piotrowska (2015). Ronel Wasserman also won the first Braj B. Kachru award for her presentation at the 2012 World Englishes conference.

On this page, you can read more about ongoing and completed studies in UPSET since 2010.

Completed studies

Kirsten, Johanita.  2016.  Grammatikale verandering in Afrikaans van 1911-2010 [Grammatical change in Afrikaans from 1911-2010].  PhD proefskrif, promotor Prof. Bertus van Rooy.

This study investigates language change in written Afrikaans within the framework of cognitive linguistics. The research questions concern the extent of language change in Afrikaans on the one hand, and the nature of internal and external change on the other hand. A historical corpus of more than a million words was collected, representing Afrikaans in the twentieth and early twenty first century. As research method, a combination of quantitative corpus analysis and quantitative grammaticography was used. There are indications of visible change in each of the grammatical categories that were investigated: time reference, pronouns, and the genitive. The extent of contact-induced change is smaller than suggested by previous research, and there is stability in the use of certain phenomena. An important theoretical finding is that there are no fundamental differences in the process or course of internal and external language change.

Hierdie studie ondersoek taalverandering in geskrewe Afrikaans binne die raamwerk van kognitiewe linguistiek. Die navorsingsvrae gaan oor die omvang van grammatikale verandering in Afrikaans aan die een kant, en oor die aard van interne en eksterne verandering aan die ander kant. ʼn Historiese korpus van meer as ʼn miljoen woorde wat Afrikaans in die twintigste en vroeg-een-en-twintigste eeu verteenwoordig is versamel, en ʼn kombinasie van die kwantitatiewe analise van die korpus met kwantitatiewe grammatikografie is gebruik as navorsingsmetode. Daar is aanduidings van sigbare veranderinge in elk van die grammatikale kategorieë wat ondersoek is: tydsaanduiding, voornaamwoorde, en die genitief. Die omvang van kontak-gemotiveerde verandering is egter kleiner as wat vorige navorsing suggereer, en daar is ook stabiliteit in die gebruik van sekere verskynsels. ‘n Belangrike teoretiese bevinding is dat daar in die proses of verloop van interne en eksterne taalverandering geen fundamentele verskille te vind is nie.

Ravyse, Natasha. 2014. Against all odds: The status of Fanagalo in South Africa today. M.A. dissertation, supervisor Prof. Susan Coetzee-Van Rooy.

Motivation for my MA dissertation stemmed from the fact that the social history of South Africa has been a unique driving force for language variation and change and contributed to the multilingual sociolinguistic nature of the country. In this context, Fanagalo holds an interesting position. The dissertation offered clarity on the current status of Fanagalo in terms of its sub-cultural status and how, in a very specific multilingual mining context, it is maintained despite the opposition of out-group speakers.

One of the main findings show that Fanagalo is indeed maintained within a selected context – and potentially in broader contexts – in South Africa today as a sub-cultural language. A model explaining the maintenance process for Fanagalo as a sub-cultural language was developed.  For my PhD, I intend to revisit the notion of ethnolinguistic vitality theory from a sub-cultural perspective.  An overall aim is to develop a standardised measuring instrument which will speak to the applicability of the traditional theory.  Furthermore, the implications of the findings alluding to current sociolinguistic vogues, such as translanguaging and superdiversity, will aid in this re-theorisation process.

Kirsten, J.  2013.  Laaste spore van Nederlands in Afrikaanse werkwoorde.  M.A. verhandeling, studieleier Prof. Bertus van Rooy.

Hierdie studie ondersoek veranderinge in die werkwoordsisteem van Afrikaans tydens aanvanklike standaardisering vroeg in die twintigste eeu. Die studie gebruik korpuslinguistiese ondersoekmetodes: die hoofkorpus is saamgestel uit al die Afrikaanse bydraes van Totius (J.D. du Toit) in die publikasie Het Kerkblad van 1916 tot 1922. Daar is ook twee kontrolekorpusse: die een bestaan uit uittreksels uit gepubliseerde Afrikaanse boeke vir dieselfde tydperk, en die ander bestaan uit uittreksels uit Afrikaanse tydskrifte vir dieselfde tydperk. Normatiewe bronne oor Afrikaans uit die tyd is ook betrek, en daar is aangetoon watter aanbevelings dié bronne maak oor die relevante verskynsels, en in hoeverre die data uit die korpusse daarmee korreleer. Die ondersoek wys dat daar selfs in die twintigste eeu nog heelwat variasie in Afrikaanse werkwoorde onder Nederlandse invloed was, en die korrelasie tussen die verskillende korpusse impliseer dat die skryftaal heelwat nader aan die spreektaal was as wat vroeër aangeneem is.

This study examines changes in the verb system of Afrikaans during the initial standardisation phase in the early twentieth century. It uses corpus linguistics as method. The principal corpus is composed of all the contributions written in Afrikaans by Totius (J.D. du Toit) in the periodical Het Kerkblad from 1916 to 1922. There are two control corpora: one consists of extracts from published Afrikaans books in the same period, and the other consists of extracts from Afrikaans periodicals in the same period. Normative sources about Afrikaans are also examined, in order to establish which recommendations these sources made about the phenomena under investigation, and to what extent the data from the corpora match these recommendations. The investigation demonstrates that in the early twentieth century, there was still considerable variability in Afrikaans verbs under influence of Dutch, and the correlation between the various corpora imply that the written language was much closer to the spoken language than had been assumed earlier.

Terblanche, Lize. 2011. Modelling narrativity in East African English. M.A. dissertation, supervisor Prof. Bertus van Rooy.

Few corpus-based studies have looked at the linguistic features that co-create narrative focus in a text. The research question posed in the dissertation was: how is narrativity encoded in East African English? To answer this question, a corpus-based model was put forth that reflects the underlying structure of narratives. The narrativity model consists of four feature groups: agency, causation, contextualisation and evaluation. Eighteen linguistic features in the four feature groups were analysed as micro-level indicators of narrativity. The corpus comprised 22 spoken and written registers of East African English from the International Corpus of English (ICE-EA) and analyses were done using WordSmith Tools 4.0. The results indicate that narrativity is a gradient phenomenon. The registers with the highest narrativity scores were fiction, social letters and oral narratives. To conclude, the narrativity model sheds light on the linguistic features used to encode narrativity across spoken and written East African English registers.


Ongoing studies