Original Research

The translingual subjects: Shaping identities and deconstructing rainbowism in One Foreigner’s Ordeal

Esther Mavengano, Muchativugwa L. Hove
Literator | Vol 41, No 1 | a1691 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v41i1.1691 | © 2020 Esther Mavengano, Muchativugwa L. Hove | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 April 2020 | Published: 30 November 2020

About the author(s)

Esther Mavengano, English and Media Studies Department, Simon Muzenda School of Arts, Culture and Heritage Studies, Great Zimbabwe University, Masvingo, Zimbabwe
Muchativugwa L. Hove, School for Languages Education, North-West University, Mafikeng, South Africa


The end of the apartheid era in South Africa inaugurated an increased mobility and accessibility to previously prohibited spaces. Although African migrant populations are still highly regulated in South Africa, their presence has also profoundly transformed the country’s present-day sociolinguistic and cultural landscape. The textual construction of the literary text in this study draws attention to the post-structuralist perspective which argues that languages are not closed entities but rather open systems utilised for expressive purposes in specific social contexts. Most significantly, recent sociolinguistic studies show that languages are no longer regarded as discrete systems in communication because they form expansive linguistic repertoires in contact spaces. Such an understanding of multilingual use facilitates communication across cultural, linguistic and national borders, thereby subverting exclusionary normative practices. The present article draws from translingual perspectives to examine communicative practices in literary discourse. A close textual analysis is adopted to identify how translingual practices make languaging a contested terrain meant to project multi-voiced and multi-perspectival discourses with transformative capacities in the context of the ‘rainbow nation’ metanarrative.


sociolinguistics; linguistic landscape; multi-voicedness; post-structuralism; rainbowism; translingual subjects.


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