Language Concepts and African Case


LanguageConcepts and African Case

LanguageConcepts And African Case

Languageis a dynamic element of communication and social description of theculture of a community. In Africa, many people speak more than onecultural language in addition to the second language that is acquiredfrom the western influence. As a result, the discourse about Africanlanguages requires the adoption of language planning, languagepolicy, and code-switching. To understand the application of theseconcepts, this discussion will explore the dynamics of the Africanlanguage to describe how the topics in the African scene.

Languageplanning is the practice of influencing the use of language byapplying it in different subjects. The concept of language planningis done through the creation of new words or changing the old ones ina certain language. This leads to the generation of new standards fora language, in a process called the Corpus Planning (Cooper, 1989).One of the relevant areas of language planning is the changing of theSwahili language to adapt to new standards in the East Africanlanguage. According to Cooper(1989), the language is changed and adopted within the East Africanboundaries as a new modern medium of communication. Anotherapplication of language planning is in South Africa, where there isthe joining use of the English and the Afrikaan language in thecountry (Heine &amp Bernd, 2000).

Languagepolicy is the practice by countries or regional blocs to use apreferred language or languages in a bid to discourage the use ofother languages. Historically, countries, including African countrieshave adopted language policies through the recognition of somelanguages as the accepted official languages (Shohamy, 2006). In EastAfrica, Tanzania is conspicuously known by the application of Swahilias the official language as a way of promoting it. Consequently, thesame policy was replicated in Kenya, a move that made the languagemost preferred communication means in the east African region. Thesame policy is used in South Africa, where Afrikaan is adopted as anofficial language besides the vast use of English in the country.

Code-Switchingin linguistics is the use of two or more languages where a speakeralternates between the languages in a single conversation.Code-switching is mostly used by people who are multi-lingual andknow more than one language (Shohamy, 2006). Since most Africansspeak more than one language, code-switching is particularly common.In Nigeria, code-switching is adopted by the use of local dialect andcombined with English. This leads to the use of a local NigerianPidgin language (Heine &amp Bernd, 2000). The same case is seen inKenya, where the combination of local dialects, Swahili language andEnglish language led to a street dialect called Sheng (Heine &ampBernd, 2000). The adoption of code-switching is also used as a way ofmaking the speech more interactive and to identify with the audienceof the parties to the conversation.

Withmany Africans using more than one language in their communication,the concepts of language planning, code-switching and language policyis common. In Africa, one of the most dominant of the three iscode-switching which is applied by people on both informal and formalconversations. Therefore, most countries use language planning toformulate language policies that are meant to promote the use of somelanguages. As a result, many African countries use language policy topromote their languages as official or public languages together withthe foreign western languages that are widely used. This way, Africancountries offer a good case for the use of languageplanning, language policy, and code-switching.


Cooper,R. L. (1989). LanguagePlanning and Social Change. NewYork: Cambridge University Press

Heine,B., &amp Bernd, H. (2000). AfricanLanguages: an Introduction.Cambridge University Press

MacSwan,J. (2013). &quotCode-switching and grammatical theory&quot. In T.Bhatia and W. Ritchie. Handbookof Multilingualism (2nd ed.). Cambridge:Blackwell

Shohamy,E. (2006). LanguagePolicy: Hidden Agendas and New Approaches. London:Routledge