Investigating the Language Situation in Africa

Tunde Olusola Opeibi

in The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199572120
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Investigating the Language Situation in Africa

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  • Linguistics
  • Forensic Linguistics
  • Language Families


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The situation in most parts of Africa supports scholars' argument that for any group of people to share a sense of common identity, a certain minimum level of communication between them must be guaranteed. And the incontrovertible evidence shows that language has remained one of the most visible and enduring senses of that shared identity. In Africa, evidence shows that language has become a very strong factor for ethno-national identity, with the ethnic loyalty overriding the national interest. Previous scholarly contributions on the complex linguistic situation in Africa have discussed strategies adopted in language planning and types of language policies in many of the nations in Africa. Drawing on these contributions, as well as incorporating recent developments, this article uses a sociolinguistic perspective to discuss aspects of language policies in Africa and how these policies reflect the language situation there. After providing an overview of the linguistic landscape of Africa, it examines language as power, language planning, language policy, and nation building, as well as legal language.

Keywords: Africa; language; power; language planning; language policy; nation building; legal language

Article.  5395 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Forensic Linguistics ; Language Families

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