Being called a coconut is regarded as an insult. But a new study says the "black on the outside, white on the inside" accent represents a deracialisation of English, with middle-class black women leading the charge.
Sociolinguistics professor Rajend Mesthrie of the University of Cape Town has tuned in to changes in speech that reveal women have perforated the social barriers of apartheid. The white monopoly on "prestige accents" was being eroded, he said.
The link between accents and power continues to dog South Africa. DA leader Mmusi Maimane has been criticised unfairly, says Mesthrie, for "code-switching", Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor was accused by Julius Malema of having a "fake accent" and reality show star Sibongile Masuku was torn down on Twitter last week for her English pronunciation on Diski Divas.