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The Languages of South Africa

The Flag of the Republic of South Africa

The Flag of the Republic of South Africa

Date and Time

Tuesday, April 9, 2013
5:30 PM - 7:00 PM


  • Loutit Lecture Halls » 103 - Lecture Hall


SOUTH AFRICA (SA) HAS 11 OFFICIAL LANGUAGES – nine are Bantu and two are West Germanic. The latter two, English and Afrikaans, have dominated the linguistic landscape of the country since the arrival of the Dutch in 1652 and the British in 1795. Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Bantu languages did not have a written form; it was developed by European missionaries. The development, however, was not extensive enough to see them being used in any significant manner in formal functions. Efforts to change their role and status escalated in the early 1990s when the country was going through political reforms. However, the sustained damage done to their dignity seems to be too grave as they are still perceived to be inferior to West Germanic languages. This talk will cover two main themes: the history of the languages in SA; and their current status.


Mr. Ditsele lives in Pretoria, the capital city of South Africa (SA), but he was born and bred in Rustenburg, SA. He is a Sociolinguist and specializes in SA English and Setswana, his first language. He is an Editor (English Language Specialist) for the CSIR, a research institute based in Pretoria. He has also worked as a Language Specialist for Parliament of SA in Cape Town, Statistics SA in Pretoria, and South African Revenue Service in Pretoria. He is currently pursuing a Doctorate (Language Practice) through Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria. His research project is on “language attitudes”, and he also does research work on “non-standard varieties of languages”. His highest qualification is a Master’s degree (General Linguistics) from Stellenbosch University. He is an author of a novel and two short stories written in Setswana; these were published in 2008 by Oxford University Press in Cape Town.



Dan Golembeski

Modern Languages and LIteratures



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