CHAPTER 3 Home languages and knowledge of other languages
This chapter presents a sociolinguistic perspective on the critical understanding of the language situation at Baragwanath Hospital. The data in this study have been collected by means of questionnaires and interviews as described in the previous chapter. Subjectivity in interpreting the data is unavoidable. Nevertheless, as far as possible it was avoided.
Six scenarios will be given in order to present more vividly the data collected at Baragwanath Hospital. These are written descriptions of what happens at this Hospital.
The language situation at Baragwanath Hospital
From questionnaires and interviews conducted at Baragwanath Hospital a list of languages has been compiled. This shows that the following languages are spoken: Zulu, Tswana, Southern Sotho, Venda, Northern Sotho, Tsonga, Ndebele, Xhosa, Afrikaans and English.
With the exception of English and Afrikaans, all these languages fall into the African languages groups. While their genetic affiliations are very obvious, their degree of relationship varies considerably. Most fall into either the Sotho or Nguni groups; within these groups, there is a fair degree of mutual intelligibility. Notable exceptions are Tsonga and Venda, which are outside either group. Guthrie ( 1 971) classifies the Sotho group as S.30, Nguni as S.40, Venda and Tsonga were distinct, being classified as S.20 and S.50 respectively.
Various reasons have been given for the multitude of languages which are spoken at the Hospital. The main cause for this phenomenon is that the hospital also serves patients, as already stated, from areas such as the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and North West, as well as countries such as Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Patients who are from KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe now reside in squatter camps such as Phola-park, Orange-farm, Chicken-farm, Snake-park and Kliptown in Soweto. These people, from various ethnic backgrounds, moved to the Gauteng area in search of jobs.
Other patients from different areas come to Baragwanath Hospital as referrals from other hospitals and from private doctors.
There is another factor which complicates the language situation at Baragwanath Hospital. From the total of 80 doctors who answered the questionnaires, 35 doctors are foreigners from countries such as the Netherlands, Australia, Zimbabwe, Belgium, Zaire, Portugal, Germany and India. Their home languages vary and among others are Dutch, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, German, Hindi, Gujerati; they use English for communication purposes in the hospital.
The nurses are mostly South African citizens, all of whom are black, and who speak different African languages including: Zulu, Xhosa, Southern Sotho, Northern Sotho, Tswana, Venda and Tsonga.
Three tables are given below, which should clearly show the variety of languages spoken at Baragwanath Hospital. Table 3.1 indicates the languages used during interviews by patients; it also shows the percentage of the patients who come from different areas. As more than 70% of the patients served by this hospital are South African citizens, their residential area is given.
Table 3.2 shows the languages spoken by doctors: that is, their home language, the language they use for communication and their citizenship. Table 3.3 indicates the languages spoken by nurses: that is, their home language, the language they use for communication and their citizenship.
Languages used by patients
The total number of people interviewed was 1 118. Of the total, 447 gave Zulu as their first language, 224 gave Southern Sotho, 212 gave Tswana, 134 gave Xhosa, 34 gave Tsonga, 22 gave Northern Sotho, 11 gave Afrikaans, 11 gave English, 11 gave tsotsitaal, 6 gave Venda and 6 gave Ndebele as their first languages. These numbers are converted into percentages of the total, 1 118.
The table reflects: in the first column the first language of the interviewees; the second column indicates the actual numbers; the third gives the percentage of the total number of respondents; the fourth column shows where the respondents reside.
Column three of the table indicates that Zulu-speaking patients come from areas in the Gauteng province and KwaZulu-Natal province. Xhosa-speaking patients come from areas in the Eastern Cape province, and some from the Gauteng province. Ndebele-speaking patients come from areas in Mpumalanga province. Southern Sotho-speaking patients come from areas in the Gauteng province, Free-State province and Lesotho. Tswana-speaking patients come from Gauteng province, North-west province and Botswana.
Northern Sotho-speaking patients, compared to Southern Sotho and Tswana, are a smaller group coming from areas in the Gauteng province, Northern province and Mpumalanga province. Tsonga and Venda-speaking patients come from Soweto and areas in the Northern province. Afrikaans-speaking patients are Coloureds from areas in the Gauteng province. English-speaking patients are Indians, Coloureds and Whites from areas in the Gauteng province, Zaire, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Patients speaking tsotsitaal are from the Gauteng province.
The table above indicates that Gauteng is a multilingual society, with its residents coming from all over Southern Africa. From the analysis it is clear that patients at Baragwanath speak a variety of languages, including second and third languages. From the table, one can conclude that Nguni languages are widely spoken, followed by Sotho languages.
Another way of showing the same information is given in figure 3.1 which shows the percentage of speakers for each language.
Languages spoken by doctors
Table 3.2 tabulates the languages spoken by the 80 doctors who completed the questionnaires at Baragwanath Hospital. Doctors who indicated that they spoke the same combination of languages are only represented once on the table. This was done in order to avoid duplication.
In the first column, the home language spoken by doctors is given. The second column reflects the actual numbers of the doctors speaking the same combination of languages and column three indicates the percentages. Column four gives an indication of languages used for communication by doctors and the fifth column gives an indication of their citizenship.
The table above shows that of the total of 80 doctors, 20 gave English as their home language, 9 German, 7 Gujerati, 6 Greek, 6 Hebrew, 9 Dutch, 2 N.Sotho, 1 Tsonga, 8 Hindi, 5 Italian, 4 Swahili and 3 Portuguese.
Column 4 of the table indicates that of the 20 doctors who gave English as their home language, only 8 could speak basic Zulu. Of the 9 German-speaking doctors, the 7 Gujerati-speaking doctors, the 6 Greek-speaking doctors, the 6 Hebrew-speaking doctors, the 9 Dutch-speaking doctors, the 8 Hindi-speaking doctors, the 5 Italian-speaking doctors, the 4 Swahili-speaking doctors and the 3 Portuguese-speaking doctors, none of them could speak any of the African languages spoken in South Africa. Of the 2 N.Sotho-speaking doctors; 2 could speak N.Sotho, S.Sotho, Tswana and Zulu. Only one could speak Tsonga and Swazi. The Tsonga-speaking doctor could speak Tsonga, Zulu, S.Sotho and Xhosa.
Column five of the table indicates that 45 doctors out of the total number of 80 doctors are South African citizens.
Most doctors speak more than one language. But only 11 doctors out of the total number of 80 could speak one of the African languages.
Doctors may ‘know’smatterings of an African language, for example ‘BasicZulu’,but this does not necessarily mean that they can question and diagnose patients about medical conditions in those languages. This statement is supported by the information gathered in the questionnaires answered by the doctors; they sometimes end up using body language, i.e the doctor may show what he/she wants from the patient by using the appropriate part of the body. The doctor may open his mouth if he/she wants the patient to do so, wave his/her hand(s) to greet the patient; wave goodbye and go, to indicate that the patient must go away. Facial expressions may be used to indicate pain (frown/sulk) in order to understand what the patient is saying.
It should also be noted from the table that a home language is not always the first language listed for communication purposes, but this is the preferential order of languages that the doctors gave in their questionnaires.
Languages spoken by nurses
Table 3.3 indicates the languages spoken by the 100 nurses who filled in the questionnaires at Baragwanath Hospital. As with the table about the doctors, nurses speaking the same combination of languages are only represented once on the table in order to avoid duplication.
The first column of the table shows the home language spoken by the nurses. The second column reflects the actual numbers of the nurses speaking the same combination of languages; column three indicates the percentages of the total interviewed. Column four indicates languages used for communication. The fifth column shows their citizenship. As the total number pf nurses who answered the questionnaire is 100, the percentage and the number are therefore the same. In order to be consistant with other tables in this study, the researcher has therefore stated both.
Table of Contents
List of Tables
List of Figures
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTORY ORIENTATION
1 . 1 Research problem
1.2 An outline of Baragwanath Hospital
1.3 Summary of background stu~y
1.4 Literature review
1.5 Deployment of study
CHAPTER 2: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND DEFINITION OF CONCEPTS
2..2 The choice of research method
2.4 Data gathering techniques
2.5 Collecting information
2.6 Data analysis
2.7 Definition of concepts
2.8 Language use in a speech community
2.9 Diglossia Language Attitudes
CHAPTER 3: HOME LANGUAGES AND KNOWLEDGE OF OTHER LANGUAGES
3.2 The language situation at Baragwanath Hospital
3.3 Implications for communication
CHAPTER 4: GENERAL CHARACTERISTIC OF LANGUAGE USE
4.3 Users of Codeswitching
4.4 The importance of codeswitching
4.6 Tsotsitaal and lscamtho
4.7 Users of Tsotsitaal and lscamtho
4.8 The function of Tsotsitaal and lscamtho at Baragwanath Hospital
CHAPTER 5: PROBLEMS AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS LANGUAGE VARIATION AT BARAGWANATH HOSPITAL
5.1 African languages
5.5 Interview Analysis
5.6 Attitudes towards language variation
5.7 Analysis of questionnaires
CHAPTER 6: GENERAL CONCLUSION
6.2 Communication problems reflected in this study
6.5 Suggestions for further research
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
AFRICAN LANGUAGE VARIETIES AT BARAGWANATH HOSPITAL: A SOCIOLINGUISTIC ANALYSIS