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Language Pluralism in Botswana – Hope or Hurdle?

A sociolinguistic survey on language use and language attitudes in Botswana with special reference to the status and use of English


Birgit Smieja

The aim of this study about the plurilingual language situation in Botswana is to show tendencies in the attitudes of Botswana citizens towards the ca. 25 languages that are still in use. Results are presented on questions like «which differentiated roles do the official language English, the national language Setswana, and the so-called minority languages play in the present Botswanan society?» The overall question of which language will win the race, which ones will survive in the language contest and which ones will not, will be analysed and discussed on the basis of extensive survey data. Based on socio-historical background information, language phenomena like bi- and multilingualism, diglossia, language shift, code switching, language status and power structures, and ethnic stereotypes triggered by language are explored and linked to the current language policy and its implementation in the educational system.
Contents: Brief historical profile and sociolinguistic account – Bi- and multilingualism – Diglossia – Language shift and language maintenance – Code switching – Language status – Language stereotypes.