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German as Namibia is a former German protectorate, end of 19 th and beginning of 20 th century , Afrikaans due to the historical connection to South Africa where Afrikaans at that stage was the primary language , English, and many indigenous languages: My father worked for the government and he travelled a lot. During school holidays I accompanied him and experienced these languages and their speakers in their actual settings.
It opened a multicultural and multilingual world to me, a world in which I felt comfortable, the world of languages.
But I had a very good Afrikaans teacher in my high school in Windhoek, and this eventually motivated me to take Afrikaans in combination with Dutch and German as my majors for my BA degree at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.
This where I really felt at home — hearing more about syntax, semantics, pragmatics, etc. But due to my interest in Afrikaans and the possibility of becoming a teacher in Afrikaans I continued with my study in Afrikaans and eventually obtained a MA degree in Afrikaans linguistics.
I was fortunate enough to be appointed as a temporary lecturer in Afrikaans linguistics at the University of Stellenbosch SU , and it dawned upon me that I probably would not become a school teacher any more. The fact the my girl friend of that time — now my wife of more than 40 years — was still studying at SU naturally had no effect on my decision to accept the position … This also motivated me to enrol for a DLitt degree at SU under the guidance of Prof Fritz Ponelis, the foremost scholar in Afrikaans syntax.
In my thesis I focussed on a combined semantic-syntactic study of Afrikaans definite pronouns and researched the influence the context of various written texts had on the use of these pronouns in Afrikaans.
At this time I already was a lecturer in Afrikaans linguistics at the University of Cape Town, where I eventually spend 11 and a half years before moving to the former Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education since the Potchefstroom campus of the North-West University where I retired after a full career of 41 years at the end of as professor in Afrikaans linguistics.
When a publisher came around asking for manuscripts I told them about the work I was doing and I was invited to submit the manuscript. To my astonishment this book published in became a best-seller in Afrikaans linguistics and it has been used since then as a handbook in many courses in South Africa.
The 6 th revised edition of this book was published in January It still amazes me that this book had this success! This enabled me to combine my interest in syntax, semantics, pragmatics, discourse analysis and text linguistics into one book.
Again a first for Afrikaans. Since then this book has been adapted for use in English Text Editing , , Sesotho and the IsiZulu version should be finalized this year and the IsiXhosa version next year. Versions in German and Dutch are also underway. We are looking for candidates to adapt this book also for their own languages — scholars in Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi, Russian, etc. I am glad my work had this effect! This was an effort on my side to transfer my skills and knowledge to other languages.
My last project was just concluded when I submitted the final manuscript for Part 2 of a book on the history of Afrikaans together with Prof Edith Raidt. This book, titled Die storie van Afrikaans: Out of Europe and from Africa.
I had the privilege to be part of the last 48 years of the history of Afrikaans and the way it developed and I recorded this for the next generation. My whole career was in and about Afrikaans.
It was a decision I made early on in my career. Rather than trying to be a scholar in a language I am not fluent in English my choice was to make a contribution to my home language, Afrikaans — despite what so many people said about this language and its complex history.
Looking back I think I made a small contribution in developing Afrikaans linguistics as a discipline in a few fields: At least I do hope it is experienced as such by colleagues in South Africa!
I think I am actually one of the first linguists in South Africa who started to make use of the List.
Even in the early days of email in South Africa ! I was a member of earlier versions of the list. And to be honest — I am proud that I realised the enormous potential of the List. It opened a world wide network of linguists wwnl to me.
I could read their informal thoughts about topics in linguistics, and I learned about new publications. It also opened linguistics as an international discipline to me, and it helped me immensely in my own career in various ways:.
When I became a manager some of us get to be managers… and the List asked for funding to support the various services of the LL, I was in a position to start a funding campaign in my own institution money from the institution itself but also from individual researchers and it enabled us as group to make a contribution.
The exchange rate of the SA rand unfortunately had an effect on the actual amount in US dollar bit at least we tried. I also tried to get other South African institutions to buy in regarding fun ding support but I was not too successful in this regard. Now that I have retired there is no guarantee that the linguists at my institution will continue to contribute, but I did my best to convince the new managers to continue with the project.
Let us hold thumbs that there will be success in both cases. I find it really strange that the LL have to actually plead for support! As long as I as retired linguist have access to research funding I certainly will make a contribution, every year, even if it is a small amount. The LL should maybe consider asking a fee for enrolment — I know it will take a lot of effort but it might just be the solution to the problems.
I thank the staff maintaining the List for enabling me to be part of an international network and this over a long time. I do wish you the best and I will continue consulting the List as long as I am still active as linguist. I am and will remain a true supporter of the List! You must be logged in to post a comment. Menu Skip to content Home About. It worked for me.
Read, read and read as wide as possible at the beginning of your career. It helps you to make an informed choice regarding the field you want to specialize in, whatever it may be.
Look for the gaps in your selected field and then make yourself the expert regarding that specific gap. Never be afraid to tackle something new. All the famous linguists followed this route. You might become the real expert in that field. And eventually a famous linguist … Do not be afraid to follow your gut.
It will not always work out but how will you know if you do not experiment with something? It makes no sense to do exactly what someone else already did.
It is just repetition and not something new. When you look back over your career, can you say: This is the real test. Remember that every generation stands on the shoulders of the previous generation s. This means that you can and may! Therefore do not be afraid to criticise the work of the previous generation.
It happened that some of my former students criticized some of my earlier work and it meant a lot to me: Make a serious effort to establish a good and wide network friends, contacts in your discipline and specific field.
If you get an opportunity to spend time in other countries as post doc, visiting scholar make use of this opportunity as it will broaden your horizon as academic. Networks make this possible and feasible. Because of this someone in your network might be willing to read your first draft of papers and even give critical feedback. Attend conferences nationally and internationally. Otherwise no one will know about your work. You do not always have to read a paper, as attendance of these conferences is part of experiencing the world of linguistics.
Remember that you have a responsibility to develop the field and discipline in your own country and in your own language. Do not be afraid to publish in your own language. English is NOT the only language of science. But also publish in English if it is possible for you as it probably will be read wider. You really do not have to be the most important international scholar. It is a bonus if it is the case. But it is important to be a recognized scholar in your own context because this is where you work and stay and function.
Take a business card linked to your institution to conferences and hand it out if there is an opportunity. And when you get back home keep the cards you got and make contact with persons in your field.
It takes time and effort, but trust me: Attend at least one LSA. Two will be even better. This is very important! This will make a difference to the way you approach what you do and the way you think about language and linguistics.
Make provision in your annual research budget for a financial contribution to the LinguistList LL. Or make certain that your institution makes an annual worthwhile! We talk about pre- and current LL. You are lucky that you are in the current LL period. Enjoy the benefits of this. It also opened linguistics as an international discipline to me, and it helped me immensely in my own career in various ways: It helped me to sharpen my own thinking about linguistics as a discipline, and also specific issues in linguistics.
It informed me about conferences of which I would not have known otherwise. It informed me about publications I would not have seen otherwise. I ordered it for our university library and in this way it helped to build a trusted and respected library for the field./p>
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