The Power of Babel: Language and Governance in the African Experience

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University of Chicago Press, Aug 3, 1998 - Foreign Language Study - 228 pages
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Linguists estimate that there are currently nearly 2,000 languages in Africa, a staggering figure that is belied by the relatively few national languages. While African national politics, economics, and law are all conducted primarily in the colonial languages, the cultural life of the majority of citizens is conducted in a bewildering Babel of local and regional dialects, making language itself the center of debates over multiculturalism, gender studies, and social theory. In The Power of Babel, the noted Africanist scholar Ali Mazrui and linguist Alamin Mazrui explore this vast territory of African language.

The Power of Babel is one of the first comprehensive studies of the complex linguistic constellations of Africa. It draws on Ali Mazrui's earlier work in its examination of the "triple heritage" of African culture, in which indigenous, Islamic, and Western traditions compete for influence. In bringing the idea of the triple heritage to language, the Mazruis unravel issues of power, culture, and modernity as they are embedded in African linguistic life.

The first section of the book takes a global perspective, exploring such issues as the Eurocentrism of much linguistic scholarship on Africa; part two takes an African perspective on a variety of issues from the linguistically disadvantaged position of women in Africa to the relation of language policy and democratic development; the third section presents a set of regional studies, centering on the Swahili language's exemplification of the triple heritage.The Power of Babel unites empirical information with theories of nationalism and pluralism—among others—to offer the richest contextual account of African languages to date.
  

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Contents

Africas Linguistic Legacy Between Expansionism Nationalism
1
the tragedy of peaceful borders
3
Linguistic frontiers and national boundaries
4
Global Africa
11
Language Race in the Black Experience An African Perspective
13
Language policy and racial attitudes
14
Language situation and language policy
16
communalist and ecumenical
18
Democracy and language policy
98
Conclusion
105
Language Policy the Rule of Law in Anglophone Africa
108
Linguistic exclusion and the legislative process
110
The English language and judicial dependence
112
Law as command and language as rights
113
Linguistic rights and legal rights
114
between interpretation and recording
116

Towards the globalization of English
21
The emergence of AfroSaxons
23
Black metaphor and English semantics
25
Conclusion
28
African Languages in the AfricanAmerican Experience
30
Black English and African American identity
31
African languages and African American identity
34
The microlinguistics of identity
37
the African American contribution
40
Linguistic Eurocentrism African CounterPenetration
42
Linguistic Eurocentrism defined
43
The diaspora and Africas linguistic counterpenetration
47
between Ngugi and Mazrui
50
linguistic diversity in a polycentric world
51
Language the Quest for Liberation The Legacy of Frantz Fanon
53
Linguistic determinism in the African context
54
Language and the colonial experience
55
Fanon and linguistic alienation
56
Language and the intellectual class
60
beyond determinism
62
Continental Africa
67
Language in a Multicultural Context The African Experience
69
Definitions
70
Characteristics and tendencies
71
the postcolonial balance sheet
77
complementarity and competition
79
between language and religion
81
Conclusion
82
Language Planning Gender Planning Some African Perspectives
85
Female diplomats and European languages
86
Preplanning gender roles
88
The gender of technology
92
Conclusion
94
Language Policy the Foundations of Democracy An African Perspective
95
Foundations of democracy
97
Language and equality before law
119
Eurocentricity in legal culture
120
Conclusion
122
Regional Studies
123
Dominant Languages in a Plural Society English Kiswahili in PostColonial East Africa
125
The making of a preponderant language
126
Kiswahili and political integration
128
Between the imperial and the preponderant
132
Towards the Africanization of English?
135
Conclusion
138
A Tale of Two Englishes The Imperial Language in PostColonial Kenya Uganda
141
British policy before the Second World War
142
British policy after the Second World War
144
The situation after Independence
146
a conclusion
157
Roots of Kiswahili Colonialism Nationalism the Dual Heritage
160
African nationalism and linguistic purism
161
African or Arabian?
162
the imperial connection
164
From pidgin to Bantu?
165
Conclusion
168
The Secularization of an AfroIslamic Language Church State Marketplace in the Spread of Kiswahili
169
Between ecumenical and secular processes
171
How the language spread
172
a conclusion
189
The Linguistic Balance Sheet PostCold War PostApartheid Beyond Structural Adjustment
195
Francophone Africa after the Cold War
196
Market ideologies and structural adjustment
198
Multiculturalism under threat
202
Language and the apartheid aftermath
205
The African impact on world languages
207
Anglicizing Africa versus Africanizing English?
210
References
212
Index
221
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About the author (1998)

Born in Kenya, A. A. Mazrui is Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities and Director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at the State University of New York, Binghamton. He is the author of over 20 books including "The Africans: A Triple Heritage, " which was a PBS series.

Alamin Mazrui is a professor in the Department of African American Studies at the Ohio State University and visiting professor in the department of Africana Studies at Rutgers University. He is the coauthor of Swahili, State and Society: The Political Economy of an African Language, The Power of Babel: Language and Governance in the African Experience, and The Swahili: Idiom and Identity.

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