Push to preserve African languages

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:41
Russian to English
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Do they consider teaching all nine official South African languages? Jan 22, 2014

There are nine official African languages in South Africa. Do they consider teaching them all? A demise of African languages in South Africa, I assume, was mentioned--were they ever present on the South African academic scene?

I did not count English and Africaans, here.

[Edited at 2014-01-22 18:41 GMT]


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:41
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
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English and Afrikaans Jan 22, 2014

English and Afrikaans are the most important South African languages in South African academia and South African children should at least learn English to pursue a meaningful academic career. I can't think of any way to study South African law or history without a sound knowledge of Afrikaans and English but I'm not an expert and probably the experts can't answer here, out of fear to break site rules.

[Edited at 2014-01-22 21:43 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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When a South African government official says "African"... Jan 23, 2014

LilianBNekipelo wrote:
There are nine official African languages in South Africa. Do they consider teaching them all?


When a South African government official says "African language", you should assume he means "a South African bantu language". Although Khoi and San languages are also spoken predominantly and traditionally by black people in South Africa, they are not usually meant when a government spokesperson says "African". And the black languages from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia aren't "African" either, because context matters, and the context is "South Africa". That is how you must interpret the heading and the content of this news report.

A demise of [black] African languages in South Africa, I assume, was mentioned -- were they ever present on the South African academic scene?


Ironically, the use and development of black languages at university level was promoted by the Apartheid government, but is not considered viable by the current South African government. That is understandable, however, because it costs a lot of money to do so, and promoting cultural and linguistic methods of keeping people apart is not part of the current South African government's ideology.

However, let's be clear about what the report actually says (if you don't just read the portion that ProZ.com quoted but the actual news report): it says that white people should learn a black language at univeristy... which is not a bad idea (I studied a black language for two years at college, and got good grades in it, and promptly forgot nearly everything about it).

The report doesn't say that black languages should be promoted at university level. Generally, black people in South Africa are ashamed of their native languages and believe that their native languages can't "handle" academic and technological matters and should not be used for anything but interaction at home or informal, private conversation. That said, most Afrikaans speakers believed the exact same thing about their own language 120 years ago. Although the South African constitution grants "official status" to these black languages, a piece of paper can't confer real, real status. The status of a language lies in the perception of the language by its own users, and no law will change that, unless it is followed-up by state funded programmes.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:41
Russian to English
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Thank you, Samuel. Very interesting. Jan 23, 2014

I just read the Proz summary--I could not find the original report-- where is it? Very interesting information, indeed.

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