January 1, 2008
After the Anglo-Boer War, the threat of Anglicisation had special emotional resonance with many Boers. Their fears were exacerbated by the reconstruction policies of Lord Alfred Milner. This provided impetus to what was termed the Second Language Movement, a movement that endeavoured to make Afrikaans an official, written language, a language autonomous from Dutch, with its own literature and higher-function uses. The historiography of the Second Language Movement is however, overwhelmingly triumphalist, giving a whiggish account of a successful nationalist endeavour. This article tries to locate itself in a growing body of work that explores the more nuanced aspects of the Second Language Movement and its place in history by examining the roles of two eminent taalstryders, Eugène Marais and Gustav Preller. Although they were enthusiastic proponents of the movement at its inception, their position had changed radically by the late 1920s. This article explores possible reasons for this and seeks to throw a different, more nuanced light on the dissonances within the Second Language Movement.