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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Multilingualism in South Africa: the challenge to below
Author:Webb, VicISNI
Periodical:Language Matters: Studies in the Languages of Africa
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:language policy
municipal government
community participation
Abstract:This article discusses the process of national linguistic transformation in South Africa 'from below', with reference to a language planning project of a South African government department. Language planning is traditionally seen as a top-down process - initiated and managed by authoritative bodies, usually government institutions such as the Department of Arts and Culture in South Africa. This approach to linguistic transformation has not produced the expected changes in national linguistic behaviour: the African languages are still not used in public domains, and there are no signs of 'equity' and 'parity of esteem' between the national official languages of the country, as required by the South African constitution (1996). One of the reasons for the failure of language planning in South Africa is the absence of meaningful community involvement, of 'language planning from below'. The article discusses a promising language planning initiative initiated in 2008 by the Department of Provincial and Local Government (later renamed Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs), which is directed at establishing official multilingual practices at the third level of government, viz. the municipalities. Given the requirement that linguistic transformation be handled from the 'bottom up', the question is what the chances are that this government project will succeed. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]