Indilinga: African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems

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“On Account Of A Basket”: A Socio-Historical And Ethnographic Perspective On The Development Of Multilingualism In South Africa

MN Ngcobo


This article provides a socio-historical and ethnographic perspective on the development of multilingualism in South Africa. By using Bourdieu's (1991) theory of social practice, I argue that people had always used their languages as important symbolic resources and for the creation of the structured social dispositions. History shows that languages were considered as ethnocentric and the proliferation of groups in a limited space created collusions and conflicts. In South Africa this situation is now being managed through a multilingual language legislation that came as a result of the new democracy in the country.

Keywords: Multilingualism, habitus, linguistic capital, linguistic market, social practice.

Indilinga Vol. 7 (1) 2008: pp. 7-22
AJOL African Journals Online