Language policy, translation and language development in Zimbabwe

  • Maxwell Kadenge
  • Dion Nkomo


Zimbabwe does not have a national language policy document on which the country’s language practices are based. The language policy is usually inferred from the language practices that characterise various spheres of life. This article attempts to show how the language policy, which primarily influences text production in the country, has nurtured translation practice. The dominating role of English sees many texts, particularly technical texts, being translated from this language into chiShona and isiNdebele, which are national languages. Translation also occurs from the national languages into English, but this involves mainly literary texts with historical and cultural significance. English literature produced by Zimbabwean writers also displays this kind of translation. Translation between indigenous languages is minimal, as is the involvement of minority languages in translation. It is apparent that scholarly research in this area is not really visible. Subsequently, the potential of translation to facilitate communication and development across linguistic barriers is not fully explored. In that context, there are many issues for translation in Zimbabwe, including in-depth investigations on the issues that are highlighted in this article like the nature of languages involved, the directionality of translation, and the types of texts translated.

Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2011, 29(3): 259–274

Author Biographies

Maxwell Kadenge
Department of Linguistics, School of Literature and Language Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag X3, WITS 2050, South Africa
Dion Nkomo
African Language Studies, School of Languages, Rhodes University, PO Box 94, Grahamstown, 6140 and Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, 7602, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9461
print ISSN: 1607-3614