Globalisation and African Languages: Risks and Benefits

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Katrin Bromber, Birgit Smieja
Walter de Gruyter, 2004 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 326 pages

Globalisation and African Languages links African language studies to the concept of 'globalisation' which increasingly undergoes critical review. Hence, African linguists of various provenience can make valuable contributions to this debate.

In cultural matters, which by definition include language, there is often a sense that globalisation leads to a major trend of homogenisation, which results in a reduction of diversity on the one hand and, on the other, in new themes being incorporated into global (cultural) patterns. However, often conflicting and overlapping particularistic interests exist which have a constructive as well as destructive potential.

This aspect leads directly to the first of three sections of this volume, LANGUAGE USE AND ATTITUDES, which addresses some of the burning issues in sociolinguistic research. Since this research area is tightly linked to the educational domain these important issues are addressed in articles that comprise the second section of this volume: LANGUAGE POLICY AND EDUCATION. The third section of the volume presents articles dealing with LANGUAGE DESCRIPTION AND CLASSIFICATION demonstrating which parts of different language systems are affected through contact under historical and modern conditions.

The contributions of all the well-known scholars in this volume show that globalisation is a two-way street, and to ensure that all sides benefit in a reciprocal manner means the impacts have to be monitored globally, regionally, nationally and locally. By disseminating and emphasising these linguistic findings as part of the global cultural heritage, African language studies may offer urgently needed new perspectives towards a rapidly changing world.


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About the author (2004)

Katrin Bromber researches at the Centre for Modern Oriental Studies, Berlin, Germany.

Birgit Smieja is Assistant Professor at the University Koblenz-Landau, Germany.

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