ABSTRACT

Chapter 7 focuses on the gendered ambiguities of English in relation to isiZulu and the tension it creates in the Zulu community. It aims at capturing some of the ‘lived realities’ in constructions of femininities, masculinities, and other-gendered identities through isiZulu vis-à-vis English. By doing so the chapter carefully advances the argument that female isiZulu speakers might find it easier to embrace so-called white English and to aim not for a black accented or identifiable English lingua franca way of speaking. Zulu men, in contrast, appear to have a tendency to hold on to an isiZulu inflected English which provides cultural clues about their ethnic and racial identity. It is suggested that while claims of belonging are the basis of this dynamic, another contributing factor is the resilient patriarchy in a society where Zulu men might have more to lose than women through the adoption of English ways of speaking. While my argument is located, to some extent, within the binary thinking of previous language and gender studies in South Africa, I also aim to dismantle some of this binary in order to allow for a more nuanced perspective of isiZulu-speakers’ gendered realities by drawing on the experience of men who have sex with other men (MSM).