Language and the politics of institutional identity: can the University of Pretoria become a bi- or multilingual university?1

  • Vic Webb Department of Afrikaans, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa


In its Strategic Plan: 2007 to 2011, the University of Pretoria commits itself (like other South African universities) to the principle of pluralism, and in particular to the promotion of diversity and multilingualism. Given South Africa's constitutional commitment to pluralism, and in the light of vision statements such as this, the development of bi- and multilingual universities in South Africa is clearly an important higher educational objective. The question is, however, whether such an objective can really be realised in the South African context. Given the recent decline of bilingualism at three formerly statutorily designated bilingual South African universities, one has to ask: Will an institution such as the University of Pretoria really be able to remain a bilingual university in a meaningful way? What forces are operative in tertiary language policy development in South Africa? In this paper, this issue will be discussed with reference to the language-political history of the University of Pretoria.

Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2008, 26(3): 393–406

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eISSN: 1727-9461
print ISSN: 1607-3614