Original Research

Exploring multilingualism at the national department levels in South Africa post the Use of Official Languages Act of 2012

Abel L. Mohlahlo, Thabo Ditsele
Literator | Vol 43, No 1 | a1819 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v43i1.1819 | © 2022 Abel L. Mohlahlo, Thabo Ditsele | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 June 2021 | Published: 31 January 2022

About the author(s)

Abel L. Mohlahlo, Department of Applied Languages, Faculty of Humanities, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa
Thabo Ditsele, Department of Applied Languages, Faculty of Humanities, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

The main objective of this article is to explore how multilingualism (i.e. the use of three or more languages) is practised at the level of national departments in South Africa since the passing of new language legislation called the Use of Official Languages Act (No. 12 of 2012). In support of this main objective, the article seeks to establish the attitudes held towards languages and official multilingualism (i.e. multilingualism which is recognised by government) by national departments’ employees responsible for matters related to language and communication. It also seeks to establish the perception of the general public on how public servants treat language when communicating with them. Data were gathered through document analyses, survey questionnaires (completed by employees at two national departments), and face-to-face interviews (with members of the public). Participants (i.e. national departments’ employees and members of the public) held positive attitudes towards official multilingualism by supporting the development and use of all 11 official languages, particularly the historically marginalised Black South African languages (BSALs). Also, as far as these two national departments are concerned, the Use of Official Languages Act (No. 12 of 2012) was yet to be fully implemented as per its objects set out in its Preamble, as the language policies developed by these national departments were yet to be implemented.

Keywords

multilingualism; language policy and planning; language attitudes; national departments; South Africa

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