Pan South African Languages Board

Leigh Oakes l.oakes at
Wed Nov 22 13:20:20 UTC 2006

Hi Jon,

This just came through and will certainly be of interest to you.

Haven't had a chance to read your work yet but hope to soon. If you've 
managed to write any more in the meantime, you could just email it to me.

Dr Leigh Oakes
School of Modern Languages
Queen Mary, University of London
London E1 4NS
United Kingdom

Email: l.oakes at
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 3128
Fax: +44 (0)20 8980 5400
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Harold F. Schiffman" <haroldfs at>
To: "Language Policy-List" <lgpolicy-list at>
Sent: 22 November 2006 13:17
Subject: Pan South African Languages Board

> Pan South African Languages Board
> Self-assessment: none
> Our assessment: 5/10
> The steward and protector of multilingualism, the Pan South African
> Languages Board (Pansalb) is less effective than it used to be. In 2003,
> Pansalb worked with the department of arts and culture to draw up the
> South African Languages Bill and develop national policy. Pansalb started
> a campaign to raise awareness of the individuals right to be served in the
> language of his or her choice at government institutions, but it has
> subsequently fizzled out.
> Despite efforts such as the lexicography units -- which have, among other
> things, translated specialist knowledge books into various languages and
> are publishing dictionaries in nine indigenous languages multilingualism
> is only marginally more visible in the public service, public discourse
> and the mass media. Internal structural and capacity problems have also
> hampered the boards efficiency. One look at the organisations website,
> which is currently malfunctioning, reveals that Pansalb has way too many
> focus areas -- language in education, lexicography and terminology
> development, research and development, translation and interpreting,
> linguistic human rights and mediation -- many of which could be outsourced
> to organisations with the capacity to carry them out. The unanimous view
> of members of the various language bodies is that the R39million that
> Pansalb has been allocated for the 2006/07 financial year is simply spread
> too thin for the board to institute meaningful change. Recruitment and the
> retention of skilled staff has also been a problem.
> Language experts abound in the country but the board does not reflect
> this. Stakeholders, while acknowledging the board to be bloated and
> increasingly bureaucratic, concede that it operates within a difficult
> environment, where role players such as business and the media are often
> unwilling to interact. This leaves the language policy, which basically
> states that students have a right to choose their language of instruction.
> This is idealistic at best as English still maintains a hegemony over
> interaction in the job market.
> Through more vigorous interaction with other sectors, a system can be
> created to foster a greater demand for indigenous African languages in the
> fields of medicine, social work, teaching and the military as the jobs
> entail communicating with people who speak African languages. -- Kwanele
> Sosibo
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