The change of language and the language of change : a consideration of some of the assumptions behind non-governmental language planning projects : implications for language in education policy

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Language planning and language policy are currently being debated by both politicians and educationists. Language policy is seen by both Afrikaner nationalists and some progressive educationists as the key to political and economic power. This dissertation argues that language policy-making alone cannot achieve political goals. It also proposes that the most successful and most democratic policies are those which are "facilitatory and enabling rather than compulsory and punitive" (Fishman, 1991: 82) and which are differentiated to take account of existing sociolinguistic contexts. Chapter 1 begins by looking at definitions of language planning and language policy. Following this, it examines some of the terms that people use to speak about language and languages in language planning. The concern here is not with establishing fixed meanings but with how the use of these terms constructs certain "realities", for example relationships amongst languages. This chapter also looks at some of the proposed relations between language and "reality". Chapter 2 briefly outlines the history of language planning in South Africa, focusing on language medium of instruction in education. It examines the Nationalists' and the ANC's language policy positions. A postscript discusses the agreement reached in November 1993. Chapter 3 looks at the role of various non-governmental associations in the language policy debate. It also examines the phenomenon of white advocacy of increased status for African languages. Chapter 4 deals with the process of language planning. Who decides on language goals and through what mechanisms are goals promoted? Chapter 5 asks questions about what bilingual or multilingual medium of instruction models would mean in terms of classroom practice and underlines the lack of consensus in bilingual education research about universally applicable solutions. Chapter 6 summarises the main arguments covered in the dissertation and makes some general recommendations about language-in-education policy.

Bibliography: pages 70-80.