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 The Department of Linguistics




 The Department of Linguistics is hosting a two day workshop based on a departmental project hosted in the Department of Linguistics, titled: Multilingual Citizenship and Health: Resemiotisation, Multimodality, Participation & Voice in a Multilingual Context, funded by the South African National Research Foundation (NRF). The project aims to contribute to the construction of new democratic participatory spaces in the politics of South African transition. One major question of the study is “what does it take for excluded multilingual citizens to participate meaningfully in institutionalized contexts and for their participation to be taken into consideration in policy making and practice”? Language has an important role for equitable and participative access to valuable symbolic and material markets; the project explores how language may be used in socially transforming multilingual societies in ways that increase the well-being of its citizens. The problem of language is particular visible here, as HIV/AIDS is to a large extent a democratic problem of voice and participation. Thus, the lack of appropriate linguistic resources risks marginalizing speakers in the long run through less participation. The question thus is: how are messages about health structured, transformed, presented to and taken up by the citizens? What are the strategies used for effective linguistic participation?

In this respect matters of language and multilingualism are paramount and significant for understanding how messages are transposed across medias and contexts. One focus study is thus on ways of developing resources and redesigning institutionalized contexts so as to better accommodate the existing multilingual repertoire of marginalized speakers. It explores the challenges and potentials posed and offered by multilingualism for speaker inclusion, representation and voice. Furthermore, language as a factor in vulnerability has a direct impact on exposure to HIV/AIDS as well as an effect on those exposed. This means the effectiveness of how information comes across has to do with how communication is shared across and between languages and with authenticity of speaker, appropriateness of cultural metaphors, style of communication, relationship of the sender with the audience etc. This will determine ways of using multilingual resources and multimodal resources to increase empowerment around HIV issues.

The specific aims of the workshop:

(1)    To create a network of scholars working within the field of HIV discourse in the multilingual setting in Africa

(2)    To create awareness of the role of language  in creating democratic participation around HIV/AIDS issues

(3)    To share information,  ideas, resources around the topic etc

Previous Workshops:

2010 Multilingualism, Literacy and Education: North to South dialogues

2010 Theories of Multilingualism, Culture and Citizenship

2009 Space, Culture and Multilingualisms

2008 Popular Cultures and the making of new Multilingualisms

2007-02 The multilingual citizen: Towards a politics of language for agency and change


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