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10.5 South Africa Culture: Language




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This article is from the South Africa FAQ, by Scott Hazelhurst scott@cs.wits.ac.za with numerous contributions by others.

10.5 South Africa Culture: Language

The South African constitution recognises the following as
official languages at the national level: Afrikaans, English,
isiNdebele, SeSotho sa Leboa, SeSotho, siSwati, Xitsonga, Setswana,
Tshivenda, isiXhosa and IsiZulu.

Provincial legislatures may declare one or more of these languages as
official provincial languages.

A Pan South African Language Board is constituted by the constitution
to make recommedations about language policy to promote these
languages. The language board is also responsible for promoting
"respect for, and the development of German, Greek, Gujerati, Hindi,
Portuguese, Tamil, Telegu, Urdu and other languages used by
communities in South Africa, as well as Arabic, Hebrew and Sanskrit
and other languages used for religious purposes."

The table below gives (in million and %) the number of people who
speak each language as their home language.

                Million    %
Zulu             8.54      21
Xhosa            6.89      17
Afrikaans        6.19      16
Tswana           3.6        9
North Sotho      3.44       9
English          3.42       9
South Sotho      2.652      7
Tsonga           1.35       3
Swazi             .926      2
Ndebele           .799
Venda             .763
Other             .942

(Source: South African Institute of Race Relations quoting HSRC
estimates for 1990).

From: daan.claassen@eng.ox.ac.uk (Daan Claassen)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.african
Subject: SA Languages (again)
Date: 6 Nov 1994 12:24:58 -0600
Sender: nobody@cs.utexas.edu

Here are some statistics on languages in South Africa published by
the Central Statistical Service:

Home language (alphabetical order):
        Afrikaans       15.1 %
        English          9.1
        Afr/Enf          0.2
        isiNdebele       1.5
        isiXhosa        17.5
        isiZulu         22.4
        Sepedi           9.8
        Sesotho          6.9
        Setswana         7.2
        siSwati          2.6
        Tsivenda         1.7
        Xitsonga         4.2
        Ander            1.8

Thus, if they put in a cut-off of 15% home-langauge speakers for the
official languages under the new constitution currently being written,
then the official languages would be isiZulu, isiXhosa and Afrikaans :)

Regards
Daan

 

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