South African Journal of African Languages

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Economics of languages: The interplay between language planning and policy, and language practice in South Africa

Pinkie Phaahla


This article explores the argument that black South Africans identify themselves readily with their ethnic groups when it comes to activities such as listening to the radio or singing songs in their respective indigenous South African languages, but when they have to make a choice as to which language to use in the realm of business, they tend to respond otherwise. Therefore, this article seeks to investigate the nature of the interplay between language planning and policy on the one hand and language practice and behaviour of the people of South Africa on the other. In addition to this, the theoretical underpinnings of language-as-a-right in relation to language-as-a-resource paradigms are discussed. Subsequently, a succinct overview of African languages as languages of economic value is presented. The attitude of South African indigenous language speakers towards the usage of indigenous African languages in the business sector is investigated by outlining their behaviour and practice at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
AJOL African Journals Online