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n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Een- of meertalige openbare tekens? Perspektiewe op die regulering van taalsigbaarheid en die Suid-Afrikaanse linguistiese landskap : research article

Volume 47, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0041-4751

Abstract

Hierdie artikel ondersoek 'n onderbeligte aspek van taalbeleid in Suid-Afrika, naamlik die vertoon van meer as een amptelike taal op openbare tekens, 'n taalbeleidsverskynsel waarna gewoonlik as taalsigbaarheid verwys word. Die artikel vertrek van die toenemende belangstelling onder geleerdes in die linguistiese landskap, 'n ondersoeksterrein waar taalsigbaarheid 'n pertinente rol speel. Voortvloeiend uit die algemene teoretiese posisies van die betrokke ondersoeksterrein betoog die artikel ten gunste van die openbare gebruik van meer as een amptelike taal op simboliese eerder as informasionele gronde. Voorts word die noodsaak aan konkrete beleidsriglyne rondom taalsigbaarheid beklemtoon. Die artikel ondersoek dan die huidige posisie rondom beleid met betrekking tot taalsigbaarheid in Suid-Afrika. Kerndokumente hieromtrent word ontleed, veral met betrekking tot taalbeleid binne die drie regeringsvlakke, sowel as die standaardisasie van geografiese name asook beleid rondom openbare tekens, spesifiek met betrekking tot padverkeerstekens. Heelwat tekortkominge rondom beleid met betrekking tot taalsigbaarheid word blootgelê en die noodsaak aan meer konkrete riglyne hieromtrent word beklemtoon.


This article addresses an under-researched aspect of language policy in South Africa, i.e. the display of more than one official language on public signs, a language policy phenomenon usually referred to as language visibility. It departs from appeals made by some scholars for increased language visibility in languages other than the erstwhile official languages (i.e. English and Afrikaans), appeals that could be conceptualised within the constitutional requirements for the elevation of the status of the previously disadvantaged languages and the extension of their usage. The article is theoretically situated within the field of linguistic landscape research, a growing scholarly interest where language visibility plays an important role. Three important functions of the linguistic landscape are discussed, i.e. the informational, symbolical and mythological functions thereof. The close relation with language policy, as well as the importance of the regulation of linguistic visibility is also dealt with. In conjunction with the general theoretical positions held in this field of research, the article argues the case for the display of more than one official language on public signs on symbolic, rather than functional grounds. It also stresses the need for policy directives regarding language visibility. The article investigates the current position with regard to language visibility policy in South Africa, covering core documents regulating language policy within the three tiers of government, as well as the standardisation of geographical names and policy on public signage, in particular on road traffic signs. Language visibility as a language policy mechanism is not promoted by policy documents at national level. Although most provinces are currently in the process of drafting new language policies, there are some indications that language visibility does feature as a language policy concept at this level. Language visibility appears to receive more detailed attention in language policies at local government level. However, policy directives noticeably steer clear of overly prescriptive measures. With regard to the standardisation of geographical names, policy on language visibility is relatively absent. Policy regulating signage in public is also vague with regard to language visibility, in particular as far as signage on road and traffic signs are concerned. The article uncovers some shortcomings with regard to the alignment of the different sets of policies that could regulate language visibility.

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/content/akgees/47/4/EJC20062
2007-01-01
2019-08-19

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