Complicity, entanglement and translation: Three English/Afrikaans texts

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    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Using Mark Sanders’ definition, Afrikaans is a “complicit” language, both in terms of the assistance it has given to apartheid, and in the way it evidences cultural and linguistic entanglement. But the texts examined in this article—J.M. Coetzee’s In the Heart of the Country (1977), Antjie Krog’s Country of My Skull (1998) and A.H.M. Scholtz’s Vatmaar (1995)—also show a keen awareness of English’s role as an instrument of cultural imperialism. They are not composed in—or translated into—English in an attempt to distance themselves from complicity so much as to reveal it. They also speak of the opportunities writing in a hybridised English, or in a mixture of English and Afrikaans, offers to those who wish to describe intimacies gained, resisted, invited or ignored in opposition to apartheid. As Afrikaans-speaking writers writing in English and vice versa, Coetzee, Krog and Scholtz complicate the relationship between language and identity which apartheid sought to codify and secure and which local and global literary markets often reinforce. Their texts tend to offer linguistic hybridity, if not always as a practice, at least as an ideal in the pursuit of which such fixed categories are destabilised, and the folded-togetherness of South African languages and identities can be realised in textual and material terms. In considering the interaction of textual studies, literary studies and print culture around questions of translation and translingualism in South Africa, it is hoped that we might create more space for the publication and critical reception of texts that re-fashion national and personal histories in radically productive ways.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)61-76
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Commonwealth Literature
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


    • South Africa, Print cultures, Translation, Afrikaans Literature, English Literature


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