cover of book

Languages in Africa: Multilingualism, Language Policy, and Education
edited by Elizabeth C. Zsiga, One Tlale Boyer and Ruth Kramer
contributions by Lydiah K. Kiramba, Stephen L. Walter, Kingsley Arkorful, Richard Beyogle, Samson Seid, Sheena Shah, Eyovi Njwe, Tolulope Odebunmi, Leonard Muaka, Anjali Pandey, Eyamba Bokamba, Elizabeth C. Zsiga, One Tlale Boyer, Ruth Kramer, Barbara Trudell and Carolyn T. Adger
Georgetown University Press, 2014
Paper: 978-1-62616-152-8
Library of Congress Classification P115.5.A35G46 2014
Dewey Decimal Classification 306.446096


People in many African communities live within a series of concentric circles when it comes to language. In a small group, a speaker uses an often unwritten and endangered mother tongue that is rarely used in school. A national indigenous language—written, widespread, sometimes used in school—surrounds it. An international language like French or English, a vestige of colonialism, carries prestige, is used in higher education, and promises mobility—and yet it will not be well known by its users.

The essays in Languages in Africa explore the layers of African multilingualism as they affect language policy and education. Through case studies ranging across the continent, the contributors consider multilingualism in the classroom as well as in domains ranging from music and film to politics and figurative language. The contributors report on the widespread devaluing and even death of indigenous languages. They also investigate how poor teacher training leads to language-related failures in education. At the same time, they demonstrate that education in a mother tongue can work, linguists can use their expertise to provoke changes in language policies, and linguistic creativity thrives in these multilingual communities.

See other books on: African languages | Language policy | Languages | Linguistics | Multilingualism
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