Dreams and Realities for South Africa: Use of Official Languages Act, 2012

Aaron Mnguni


Language policies are the cornerstone that establish and maintain communication amongst people. Proper communication, particularly amongst speakers of many languages in a country such as South Africa hinges heavily on perceptions regarding the status of the languages used in that specific country. According to the Republic of South African Constitution (Act 108 of 1996), South Africa has eleven official languages. Nine of these official languages (the indigenous African languages), are regarded as historically disadvantaged, while the remaining two, viz. English and Afrikaans enjoyed official recognition under the then ‘apartheid’ era that lasted until 1994. The previously disadvantaged African languages still lag in terms of development, when compared to English and to a lesser extent, Afrikaans. To address this challenge and reverse the status quo, several measures have been undertaken by government, including the passing of an Act called, Use of Official Languages Act, 2012. This Act aims at managing the use of the official languages optimally, with special emphasis on the previously marginalised languages. South Africa is known for developing good language policies but often criticised for producing such good policies for one good purpose only - to display them in office shelves. Following this state of affairs, this article therefore examines the implementation challenges regarding this Act and suggest what could be done to successfully implement it in South Africa. Second, the article also seeks to alleviate the perceived apathy in implementing language policies, particularly in South Africa, and with implications for Africa as a whole.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/smc.v9i1.5104


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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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