Development is based on communication through language. With more than two thousand languages being used in Africa, language becomes a highly relevant factor in all sectors of political, social, cultural and economic life. This important sociolinguistic dimension hitherto remains underrated and under-researched in 'Western' mainstream development studies. The book discusses the resourcefulness of languages, both local and global, in view of the ongoing transformation of African societies as much as for economic development. From a novel 'applied African sociolinguistics' perspective it analyses the continuing effects of linguistic imperialism on postcolonial African societies, in particular regarding the educational sector, through imposed hegemonic languages such as Arabic and the ex-colonial languages of European provenance. It offers a broad interdisciplinary scientific approach to the linguistic dimensions of sociocultural modernisation and economic development in Africa, written for both the non-linguistically trained reader as much as for the linguistically trained researcher and language practitioner.
H. Ekkehard Wolff has taught at universities in Germany, Finland, Nigeria, Niger, Ethiopia and South Africa. His research encompasses both major African languages and endangered languages and he was awarded the traditional title Midala Lamang by the Emir of Gwoza in 1992. He has written extensively on language policies and their implementation in Africa, in particular with regard to the politics of language in education.
1. Introduction: approach, questions and themes; 2. Background: Africa and the 'West' - a difficult relationship; 3. Perception: between ignorance, half knowledge and distortion; 4. De-marginalisation: the cradle of mankind and home of human language; 5. Re-conceptualisation: the overdue linguistic turn in development discourse; 6. Challenges: linguistic plurality and diversity - problem or resource?; 7. Future: synopsis and options for language planning; 8. Agenda: arguments and steps; 9. Basic sociolinguistic facts: 'languages', 'dialects', numbers of speakers.