New minimal language policy proposed by CSIR
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) says that 77% of South Africans can understand each other in three of the main languages. They have, as a result, proposed that a language policy which recommends English, isiZulu and Sepedi as official languages, be adopted. A draft new language policy has been published in the government gazette for public comment which minimalizes ten of South Africa’s current official languages.
The proposal, however, makes it clear that it also recommends that a policy should be adopted for use of information in additional languages in areas where there is “a regional footprint” and “as far as is practical and reasonable” to respond to requests and communications sent in languages other than the official three.
The organisation says the selection of its three official languages was based on “maximum reach through the principle of mutually intelligible languages”. Sepedi is one of many dialects of the Sotho people, known as Northern Sotho or Sesotho sa Leboa, from whence the homeland name of Lebowa was drawn, and is mostly spoken in the Northern Province of South Africa. Around 3.7 million people in South Africa use it as their home language, it is reported, and Sepedi is the most common language spoken in the heart of the industrial South Africa, which also has largest residential area.
Meanwhile, English is the most common language in schoolbooks. It also the most common “lingua franca” of trading partners in North America, the Australasias, India, and to a great extent in Africa and Europe, all of which are major trading partners of South Africa. All government correspondence in South Africa has now switched to English as first choice, as does business and commerce by default, which fact is probably related to the fact that this is first choice of the JSE and the IT industry worldwide.
IsiZulu, also known as Zulu, is understood by people from the Cape to Zimbabwe and reported to be understood by some 10 million persons. Zulus are part of the Nguni group of people, taking their name from the chief who founded the royal line in the 16th century. King Shaka raised the tribe to prominence in the early 19th century, from whom the current dynasty is founded. Over 95% of those who speak isiZulu live in South Africa, meaning that 24% of the population can speak this language, dwarfing other languages except English.
Zulu is the most widely spoken home language in South Africa, rated as understood by 24% of the population, with about 10 million speakers – the vast majority of whom live in South Africa.
Notable is the fact that both Afrikaans (the language of the political base prior to 1994 and the cause of outbreaks of violence when the language was named as first choice for schools throughout South Africa) and Xhosa (the language of the political base after 1994), are not included.
Neither is Tswana mentioned, one of current eleven official languages in South Africa, which is spoken by a larger number of people actually living in South Africa and not in Botswana, the home of the language. Other articles in this category or as background //parlyreportsa.co.za/trade-industry/nema-waste-ask-parliamentarians/