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date: 01 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter is a discussion of the nexus between language policy and the national sociopolitical policies and practices with regard to the distribution of opportunities, human rights, values, recognition, freedom, equity, fairness, and the resolution of disputes. Examples from Africa are discussed using a modified conceptual framework adopted from Patten (2001) in which he argues that “a language enjoys public recognition when it is possible to access services and/or conduct public business in that language.” Using the examples of South Africa and Ethiopia we see how the official multilingualism model fails to promote all languages in a complex plurilingual polity, as it inadvertently promotes strong languages to the detriment of weaker ones. The use of the language rationalization model also failed in Kenya, Tanzania, and Somalia, where the state’s tinkering with language behavior patterns only helps to privilege some languages and disadvantage others.

Keywords: language policy, language rationalization, human rights, multilingualism, plurilingual polity

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