The Political Economy of the Harmonisation of the Nguni and the Sotho Languages

  • Neville Alexander Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Keywords: standardisation, harmonisation, language planning, standard nguni, standard sotho, ethnicity, nation-building, african languages, ausbau languages, language engineering, mutual intelligibility, pan south african language board, language modernisation


The author believes that it is essential to revisit the issue of the harmonisation of the African languages of South Africa. He maintains that most people who have been writing on the subject locally have not understood the kernel of the original Nhlapo-Alexander proposal and restates the economic and political arguments for it. Because there are no "linguistic" barriers to the realisation of this proposal, he concludes that the main obstacle is the lack of political will and appeals to the relevant academics and political/cultural leadership of the country to reconsider the issue against the background of a similar movement in the rest of the continent.