ABSTRACT

Mobility and authenticity are useful conceptual metaphors when exploring the politics of English as a lingua franca. Chapter 5 shows the complex entanglement of English linguistic mobility and perceptions of what is considered to be racial authenticity. South Africa’s stark socio-economic class disparities continuously manifest in white economic privilege, but also in an increasingly solid black middle class. Shifting to the ‘black gaze’ in this chapter, I draw from the concepts of mobility and authenticity to analyse politicians’ ways of speaking English and the responses to their language usage. By using a raciolinguistic lens for my analysis, I aim to demonstrate how, on the one hand, people have fixed perceptions about racial identities in relation to English usage and, on the other hand, there is much mobility and fluidity when it comes to ideologies of English language usage. This chapter describes manifestations of coloniality of language (Veronelli 2015) and illustrates them with concrete examples of how the social and racial injustices of the colonial and apartheid past simmers in the minds of many South Africans.