The role of language and language planning in social transformation

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The focus of this chapter is the framework within which the problems to be addressed through language planning and policy in the Northern Province must be undertaken. It will provide the larger framework within which language planning must be developed since language planning cannot be developed in isolation. In this framework two models of social transformation will be explained, the systems model and the dynamic social field model. In the systems model the whole society may be conceived as a system at the macro level and at the micro level local communities may be viewed as small systems. The dynamic social field model of transformation views society as a process, which consists of continuous and unending events. I will also discuss the role of language and language planning in social transformation, and in the analysis of language policy, I will consider the power dimension since the role of language policy as an instrument of government power is undeniable. Language policy is a tool of government but I will also look at the influences of grassroots pressure. Instruments and strategies of language planning will be discussed and thereafter language education policy with mother-tongue education as proposed by UNESCO in 1951 will be looked at. I will end the chapter with a discussion of policy construction, planning and implementation.

Social transformation

A. The systems model: engendering the concept of social change.Sztompka (1994:3) asserts that in accordance with the systems model of sociologists,”organisms are cases of systems, but so are molecules, buildings, planets and galaxies”. This general notion may be applied to human society at various levels of complexity. According to him, at the macro level the whole global society (humanity) may be conceived as a system, at the mezzo level, nation states and regional political alliances could also be seen as systems, and at the micro level, local communities, associations, firms, families or friendship circles may be treated as small systems. Distinct domains of society like the economy, politics and culture may also be viewed as systems. The transformation of society is conceived then as the change occurring within, or embracing the social system. Transformation is seen as ‘the difference between various states of the same system succeeding each other.’ (Sztompka 1994.4). If one speaks of transformation, one has in mind a change that comes into being after some time. “We actually deal with differences between what was observed before that point and what we see after that point in time”. (Strasser and Randall. 1981). In the context of this dissertation I look at what was observed in society before 1994 and what we observe after 1994. The society that changes always affects other human phenomena like culture, education, politics, religion, etc. Underlying observable structural changes in society there are deeper causal social factors. The post 1994 South Africa is the focal point, but more specifically the Lompopo Province. Politics changed in this country and a number of other human phenomena must change as well. The country’s constitution expects people to be non-racial, multilingual, equal in the eyes of the law, and be politically aware.In attempting to give a standard type of definition of transformation Hawley said: ” By social change [transformation] I mean any non-recurrent alteration of a social system considered as a whole” (Hawley 1978. 787). The system of transformation is not simple or one-dimensional, but it incorporates various components. T~lis includes:
1. The number and variety of human individuals, social bonds, and linkages between individuals. Languages have both a binding and a separating function.People can use language as an instrument to group themselves together or to separate themselves from others.
2.The occupational roles played by individuals and the recruitment principles in associations. Language can be an instrument that allows people to participate in activities and enjoy certain privileges.
3.The boundary-criteria of inclusion and gate-keeping arrangements in organisations. Language also have a symbolic function when it is used for identification (Webb et ai, 2000:2). People feel at home with the languages they identify with. The same feeling goes for a national anthem sung in one’s mothertonglJe.Linguistic affirmative action can speed up transformation since individuals and groups will feel accommodated in society and through empowering the formerly marginalised languages, one will actually be empowering speakers and learners of such languages. In developing language policy for the Province in Chapter 7 these aspects of change
will be considered.


Chapter 1 Problem statement
1.1 Historically determined tensions/divisions; discrimination in the Limpopo Province 
1.2 Currently/present tension and fears between language groups 
1.3 Information needed for the study 
1.4 Aims of the study 
1.5 Structure of the dissertation 
Chapter 2 Social transformation and language planning: The framework
2.1 Social transformation 
2.2 The role of language and language planning in social transformation
2.3 Language and power 
2.4 Policy construction, planning and implementation 
2.5 Language education planning 
2.6 Mother-tongue language education 
Chapter 3 Language-based problems in comparable countries
3.1 Introduction 
3.2 Nigeria 
3.3 Kenya 
3.4 Tanzania
3.5 The consequence of the language policies of African states 
3.6 Languages of Learning and Teaching (LoLIT) 
3.7 Some characteristics of language policies in Africa 
3.8 Implications for the Limpopo Province 
Chapter 4 The socio-political history of the Limpopo Province
4.1 The early stone age period 
4.2 The Iron age period 
4.3 The Khoisan 
4.4 The ‘Bantu’ people 
4.4.1 The Northern Sotho
4.4.2 The Tswana
4.2.3 The Tsonga
4.4.4 The Venda
4.4.5 The Afrikaners
4.4.6 The English
Chapter 5 A sociolinguistic profile of the Limpopo Province
5.1 The socio-political context 
5.2 Languages of the Province 
5.3 Language families 
5.4 Language knowledge
5.5 Incidence of multilingualism 
5.6 Demographic distribution 
5.7 Language functions 
5.8 Language status 
5.9 Language growth and language shift 
5.10 Literacy 
5.11 Corpus development 
5.12 Public functions and domains 
5.13 Language planning institutions
5.14 The vision of the Limpopo Province Language Committee
5.15 A SWOT analysis of major provincial languages
Chapter 6 Educating for social transformation
6.1 Cognitive development
6.2 The use of African languages as languages of learning and teaching
6.3 Learning the second language
6.4 The realities of second language teaching in the Limpopo Province
6.5 Education and teacher education in the RDP
Chapter 7 Developing a language policy for social transformation
7.1 Introductory background
7.2 National ideals
7.3 The reconstruction and development programme
7.4 The Constitution 
7.5 The Bill of Rights
7.6 Language policy practices relevant to the Limpopo Province 
7.7 The language policy 
7.8 The implementation plan 
Chapter 8 Summary, conclusions and recommendations


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