Critical perspectives on language planning and policy in Africa: Accounting for the notion of multilingualism
AbstractThis paper draws on the notion of multilingualism as social practice (Heller 2007) to critiquepostcolonial language planning and policies in Africa. Drawing on illustrations fromEthnologue's(2009) languages of Africa, studies on language planning and policy in Africa, and recentdevelopments in harmonisation of cross-border language research (Prah 1998; Banda 2008), the paperargues that there are distortions in the conceptualisation of multilingualism and what it entails inAfrica's socio-cultural contexts. In turn, the paper faults monolingual biases in the notions and modelsused to describe and promote multilingualism in Africa, which mirror descriptions of the languagesituation in Western socio-cultural contexts. The paper argues for cross-linguistic and cross-borderstatus and corpus planning to take advantage of multilingualism as a linguistic resource for socioeconomicdevelopment in Africa. The paper concludes by highlighting the prospects for linguisticrepertoire-based multilingual models for language planning and policy in Africa.Keywords : multilingualism, language policy, linguistic repertoire, urbanization, postcolonial
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