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LINGUIST List 18.2604

Fri Sep 07 2007

Diss: Socioling: Orman: 'Language Policy and Nation-building in Pos...'

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        1.    Jon Orman, Language Policy and Nation-building in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Message 1: Language Policy and Nation-building in Post-Apartheid South Africa
Date: 07-Sep-2007
From: Jon Orman <orman.jongmail.com>
Subject: Language Policy and Nation-building in Post-Apartheid South Africa
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Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Program: PhD
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Jon Orman

Dissertation Title: Language Policy and Nation-building in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics

Dissertation Director:
Leigh Oakes

Dissertation Abstract:

While not essential, the link between language and national identity is
nevertheless often a highly important and salient one, a fact illustrated
by the centrality of linguistic concerns in many nationalist discourses
throughout the world. As a result of this linkage, it is understandable
that those seeking to create or manipulate national identities have
habitually attempted to do so through the formulation and implementation of
language policy and planning. This thesis develops a broad theoretical
framework for the study of national identity and language policy. Of
particular interest is the manner in which these two phenomena frequently
interact and the societal consequences of that interaction.

South Africa represents a fascinating historical and contemporary context
in which to investigate the effect of language policy and planning on the
formation of social identities. From the earliest stages of European
colonisation to the present day, successive governing regimes have
attempted to manipulate the various ethnic and national identities of the
South African population to suit their own ideological agendas. In the
post-apartheid era, much has been made of the government's official policy
commitment to promote 'nation-building' through the institutionalisation of
genuinely multilingual practices in public life. In reality, though,
public life in present-day South Africa is notable for its increasingly
monolingual-English character. This contradiction between official policy
and actual linguistic practices is symptomatic of the hegemony of an
implicit 'English-only' ideology that permeates most governmental and
public organisations. This has led to a situation of highly salient
language-based identity conflict between many Afrikaans speakers resentful
of the decreasing presence of Afrikaans in public life and those loyal to
the de facto monolingual model of nationhood promoted by the ANC. But
perhaps the most pernicious consequence of this increasing dominance of
English has been its entrenchment of elitist governing practices that
ensure the continued socio-economic marginalisation of African language
speakers who constitute the large majority of South African citizens. If
language planners are to convincingly address this problem, it is clear
that a radically alternative model of language policy and national
integration needs to be promoted and adopted.

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