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Lexikos  2002 

The cause of urban slang and its effect on the development of the northern Sotho lexicon

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Urban slang terminology is extensively used today by most indigenous communities when speaking various South African indigenous languages. This is usually the case with informal conversations where the type of language used is also regarded to be informal. There are many instances where slang terms are used, consciously or unconsciously, in the form of code-switching with the indigenous languages in formal speech or informal conversations. These urban slang terms are regarded by most of the South African indigenous communities as prestige terms, especially by the young generation. Just as English and Afrikaans terminologies which had tremendous influence on the vocabularies of the indigenous languages, urban slang terminology has great influence on the daily usage of the South African indigenous languages. Despite this pressure, Northern Sotho and other South African indigenous languages do not have officially recognized adoptives which are derived from slang terminology. This is due to the fact that most language uthorities do not want to associate their standard languages with urban slang because of various reasons which include, inter alia, the conservative idea of associating urban slang with crime and juvenile delinquency. Despite the negative attitudes of most of the conservative language authorities who regard the loan words of urban slang origin to be "contaminating" the South African indigenous languages (such as Northern Sotho), this slang terminology is every day becoming more popular and seems to have come to stay rather than be removed from the language of the people. A considerable fraction of the vocabulary of Northern Sotho, for instance, is made up of words which can be regarded as "loan words" derived from urban slang, even though formally we are still refusing to accept them as part of the lexicon of official Northern Sotho.


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