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Academic Paper

Title: The Politics of Compromise and Language Planning: The case of South Africa
Paper URL:
Author: Mtholeni N. Ngcobo
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of South Africa
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Sociolinguistics
Abstract: This article discusses the political development of language planning and policy throughout different periods in the history of South Africa. It shows how the colonial experience transformed the linguistic landscape of the country and affected decisions made about language. Although the term 'language planning' may not have been explicitly used during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in South Africa, the use of language in education and the courts through the policy of 'Indirect Rule' and 'Anglicisation' is indicative of the role of language in fulfilling political and ideological goals. Afrikaners' resistance to Anglicisation invoked the idea of language planning in a strict sense, and this is vividly represented in the policy of Apartheid, which excluded the indigenous languages from development. The latter practice, incidentally, led to the elevation of certain indigenous languages through the 'divide and rule' system, as people of the same linguistic group were brought together. The new language policy in South Africa today illuminates the socio-political history of the legislated languages and reflects the politics of compromise in its discourse.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Language Matters Studies in the Languages of Africa, 40(2), 91-100

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