In this study the author looked at the issue of the Afrikaans language, which is most often approached from a position of strong vested interest, either in support or against it. This study was intended as an intellectual response to an intensely debated issue. It is a survey of scholarly and tendentious reporting regarding the status of Afrikaans and the other official languages of South Africa.
As we move into the 21st century the Afrikaans language has once more moved into a position of status, not for ideological purposes but for practical communication. Previously it was associated with the struggle for survival, and with an image of kitchen patios. As it takes its rightful place in our multilingual country, one in which the playing fields are levelled for all indigenous languages, major processes in society will determine its future and to what extent Afrikaans would function as an African language. For this to happen the language has to create a survival niche for itself, on behalf of the other nine indigenous languages. As one of the official languages it needs to create a space beyond hegemony and social legislation. By ensuring that it is always ‘ahead and to the side’ (rather than ‘on the side’) of English and the other nine languages, the Afrikaans language will experience a growth phase continuing to interrogate its own traditions where people are empowered to use the language of their choice. The Afrikaans language must not be continually punished for its perceived complicity in apartheid politics but should be protected and advanced with an overarching structure of multilingualism.
The downgrading of Afrikaans has not affected the language adversely; on the contrary it has triggered stronger support from influential persons and the rest of the population. It has found a new identity and status alongside the other ten official languages. Each of these languages should be encouraged to flourish with political will and patience. Afrikaans has a significant role to play in the ‘African Renaissance’ and remain an important language of all South Africans.
Its role as a South African language can be redefined in terms of the constitution. In the words of President Thabo Mbeki, “when the sun rises, it must show a rebirth of South Africa, driven by the enormous talents of all our people, and made possible by the knowledge and realisation that we share a common destiny’.
|Subject 2||Communication science|
|Degree Type||Doctoral degree|