Saturday, January 14, 2023


  Eli-express       Saturday, January 14, 2023

Language is the most important method of human communication. A language consists of a set of words and sounds used in a structured way and is communicated between people through speaking, writing, and gestures. Language is the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of acoustic as well as kinesic signals to express thoughts and feelings. Language is also used for the exchange of knowledge and experiences.  KISWAHILI IN INTERNATIONAL LEVELS

a) Official Language in EAC

Big news! The East African Community has decided to use Swahili as their the official language. This is no surprise, as a large part of the population in most of the association’s countries already speak the language. However, this is not the case in Uganda, which is why all Ugandan citizens have been ordered by the government to learn the language.

When a number of countries form an alliance and a number of countries share the same language, it can be convenient use this language as the main language of communication. According to the Africa Report, this is exactly what happened for the East African Community, which consists of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. They have declared Swahili to be their official language.

This decision can easily be explained, as Tanzania and Kenya already regard Swahili, which is a mix between the local languages of east African tribes and Arabic, as an official language, the Africa Report says.

In addition, many people in Rwanda and Burundi speak the language as well. The only outsider here is Uganda; here, Swahili is only spoken by a small part of the population.

The Africa Report claims this has to do with the fact that many Ugandans dislike the language because it was used by dictators and colonial officials.

The Ugandan government has decided that now the language will become the official language of the EAC, all Ugandans must learn Swahili.

According to the Africa Report, this president Yoweri Museveni is thus keen to increase the popularity of the language. To create more Swahili speakers, all institutions involved in languages have not only been asked to use Swahili, but also to promote the language and teach it to those that do not speak it. As a result, the government hopes the language will become another national language in Uganda, the African Report says.

According to Barbra Nekesa, Uganda’s Information Minister, the government hopes the decision to make Swahili more widespread in the country will mean conducting business with other EAC states will be easier. She says communication will run more smoothly as the language barrier between business partners will disappear. Nekesa states that the Ugandan government has always promoted the Swahili language but that the negative image the language obtained during the regime of dictator Idi Amin had prevented the efforts from becoming successful.

b) Official Language in SADC

In celebration of 2019 as the International Year Of Indigenous Languages, SADC has adopted a language from its east African brothers and sisters. Not only will Swahili be recognized as an official language, but will be recognized as a mode of communication in business in all sectors and the environment.

Last week the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) welcomed the declaration by the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to adopt kiSwahili as its fourth official language of communication.

The announcement came as the world celebrated 2019 as the International Year Of Indigenous Languages and was announced during the SADC 39th heads of summit in Tanzanian at the Julius Nyerere International Conference Centre to ensure that the marginalization of African languages as languages of business was dealt with.

“This milestone achievement towards recognition and elevation of indigenous African languages across the SADC region forms part of the greater effort in ensuring development, usage and intellectualisation of our heritage languages,” said the Chairperson of the Board, Dr David wa Maahlamela.

Existing official languages of SADC currently are English, Portuguese and French.

Africa is the only continent where a majority of the languages taught in schools are international foreign languages such as Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

“KiSwahili would be adopted at the level of Council and Summit, first as a language for oral communication, before eventually being adopted for written official communication within SADC,” says GCIS.

It is already an official language of the African Union.

“KiSwahili is an impeccable point of departure in safeguarding integrative multilingualism inclusive of indigenous languages,” Maahlamela said.

It is also the official language of Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda with over 100 million speakers.

“We have for long been very much concerned that not only South Africa has experienced the marginalisation of indigenous languages, but also our SADC region, where mostly English language took prominence amongst others.

“South Africa as a member state has a huge responsibility ahead in ensuring that indigenous language not only becomes communication languages, but also business languages in all sectors and environment,” Maahlamela concluded.

The African Union has joined the campaigns to elevate Kiswahili as one of its common languages even as it prepares for heads of State meeting on July 7.

The African Academy of Languages, AU’s specialised institution mandated to develop and promote African languages, has entered into a partnership with the East African Kiswahili Commission to “promote wide use of Kiswahili for regional integration and sustainable development.”

Adoption of Kiswahili as a continental language implies that there will always be a Kiswahili translator at all the bloc’s official meetings with documents, including treaties and agreements also being authored in the East African language.

“The AU has partnered with the EAC to set the pace for the recognition and promotion of Kiswahili as a Language of Wider Communication in the whole of Africa,” the EAC Secretariat said in a statement on Wednesday.

The push to make Kiswahili a pan-African lingua franca comes as the bloc moves to set rules for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) unveiled in Kigali last year.

A committee of experts is working on the rules of origin to be applied by all the AfCTA signatories.

On Saturday, President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to join other African leaders for the AU Extra-Ordinary Summit and the first AfCTA meeting in Niamey, Niger.

A common language plays a crucial role in commerce. African countries have adopted a number of official languages that include English, French, Arabic and Portuguese, depending on their colonial heritage.

In a statement, the EAC secretary general Liberat Mfumukeko, said the Kiswahili push was driven by realisation by EAC policy organs of the importance of the language in regional integration.

“The language is a strategic resource for communication and active citizen participation in development,” he said.

The problem on this planet is that language systems vary greatly from region to region. The diversity can be so great that a person cannot understand the language of a member from another region or country. To overcome such obstacles, people developed the lingua francas or trade languages, used to exchange information between speakers of different native languages.

Of all the languages in the world, about one-third of those spoken come from Africa and another third from Asia.

 Africa's four main language families

Africa's four major language families are Niger-Congo, Nilo-Saharan, Afroasiatic, and Khoisan, as well as another Austronesian language family spoken in Madagascar. [Harvard]

Africa's main languages are Swahili, Amharic, Yoruba, Oromo, Hausa, Igbo, Zulu and Shona.

The main "foreign" (colonial) languages spoken in Africa are Arabic, English, French and Portuguese. Due to colonization, various Creole languages have developed in Africa, such as Sango, Kinubi, Lingala (a Bantu-based trade language and official language in both Congos) and Afrikaans, also known as Cape Dutch, a colonial language developed in South Africa from 17th-century Dutch.
Swahili (kiSwahili) is a Bantu language and lingua franca for much of East Africa.

The object of inquiry in linguistics is human language, in particular the extent and limits of diversity in the world’s languages. One might suppose, therefore, that linguists would have a clear and reasonably precise notion of how many languages there are in the world. It turns out, however, that there is no such definite count—or at least, no such count that has any status as a scientific finding of modern linguistics.

The reason for this lack is not (just) that parts of the world such as highland New Guinea or the forests of the Amazon have not been explored in enough detail to ascertain the range of people who live there. Rather, the problem is that the very notion of enumerating languages is a lot more complicated than it might seem. There are a number of coherent (but quite different) answers that linguists might give to this apparently simple question.

More than you might have thought!

When people are asked how many languages they think there are in the world, the answers vary quite a bit. One random sampling of New Yorkers, for instance, resulted in answers like “probably several hundred.” However we choose to count them, though, this is not close.

When we look at reference works, we find estimates that have escalated over time. The 1911 (11th) edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, for example, implies a figure somewhere around 1,000, a number that climbs steadily over the course of the twentieth century. That is not due to any increase in the number of languages, but rather to our increased understanding of how many languages are actually spoken in areas that had previously been underdescribed.

Much pioneering work in documenting the languages of the world has been done by missionary organizations (such as the Summer Institute of Linguistics, now known as SIL International) with an interest in translating the Christian Bible. As of 2009, at least a portion of the bible had been translated into 2,508 different languages, still a long way short of full coverage. The most extensive catalog of the world’s languages, generally taken to be as authoritative as any, is that of Ethnologue (published by SIL International), whose detailed classified list as of 2009 included 6,909 distinct languages.


Did you know that (most) languages belong to a family?

family is a group of languages that can be shown to be genetically related to one another. The best known languages are those of the Indo-European family, to which English belongs. Considering how widely the Indo-European languages are distributed geographically, and their influence in world affairs, one might assume that a good proportion of the world’s languages belong to this family. That is not the case, however: there are about 200 Indo-European languages, but even ignoring the many cases in which a language’s genetic affiliation cannot be clearly determined, there are undoubtedly more families of languages (about 250) than there are members of the Indo-European family.

What is mutual intelligibility and can it help us identify different languages?

One common-sense notion of when we are dealing with different languages, as opposed to different forms of the same language, is the criterion of mutual intelligibility: if the speakers of A can understand the speakers of B without difficulty, A and B must be the same language. But this notion fails in practice to cut the world up into clearly distinct language units.

In some instances, speakers of A can understand B, but not vice versa, or at least speakers of B will insist that they cannot. Bulgarians, for instance, consider Macedonian a dialect of Bulgarian, but Macedonians insist that it is a distinct language. When Macedonia’s president Gligorov visited Bulgaria’s president Zhelev in 1995, he brought an interpreter, although Zhelev claimed he could understand everything Gligorov said.

Somewhat less fancifully, Kalabari and Nembe are two linguistic varieties spoken in Nigeria. The Nembe claim to be able to understand Kalabari with no difficulty, but the rather more prosperous Kalabari regard the Nembe as poor country cousins whose speech is unintelligible.

Another reason why the criterion of mutual intelligibility fails to tell us how many distinct languages there are in the world is the existence of dialect continua. To illustrate, suppose you were to start from Berlin and walk to Amsterdam, covering about ten miles every day. You can be sure that the people who provided your breakfast each morning could understand (and be understood by) the people who served you supper that evening. Nonetheless, the German speakers at the beginning of your trip and the Dutch speakers at its end would have much more trouble, and certainly think of themselves as speaking two quite distinct (if related) languages.

In some parts of the world, such as the Western Desert in Australia, such a continuum can stretch well over a thousand miles, with the speakers in each local region able to understand one another while the ends of the continuum are clearly not mutually intelligible at all. How many languages are represented in such a case?

Related to this is the fact that we refer to the language of, say, Chaucer (1400), Shakespeare (1600), Thomas Jefferson (1800) and George W. Bush (2000) all as “English,” but it is safe to say these are not all mutually intelligible. Shakespeare might have been able, with some difficulty, to converse with Chaucer or with Jefferson, but Jefferson (and certainly Bush) would need an interpreter for Chaucer. Languages change gradually over time, maintaining intelligibility across adjacent generations, but eventually yielding very different systems.

The notion of distinctness among languages, then, is much harder to resolve than it seems at first sight. Political and social considerations trump purely linguistic reality, and the criterion of mutual intelligibility is ultimately inadequate.




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