For all intents and purposes, many of South Africa’s indigenous languages are listed among the world’s most endangered languages. What this means in simple terms is that many of our languages will most likely become extinct in the near future. This, despite the fact we are the majority in this country, yet our majority languages face the danger of disappearing because people elevate English at the expense of their own languages.
I used to think it ridiculous to think that our languages can die! But having been involved in several language projects, I am more than alarmed at the status of our languages.
Many African intellectuals have given us many reasons why the state of affairs, not forgetting that they have not included themselves as the primary proponents of our dying languages because to them English is status. Many of these intellectuals cannot even construct a full sentence in their mother tongue.
There have been a number of initiatives aimed at improving the status and use of African languages, yet many of these projects have failed simply because African people see no value in their own languages. They would rather struggle to express themselves in a foreign language.
Recently, I was asked to give a basic translation into any South African language of my choosing. While I take pride in my language competence and consider myself an expert in my own language, I was reminded of how shameful our people are. When efforts like these come our way, many people, instead of being honest to say they are not equipped to translate to our languages, will happily give substandard work! These are people who themselves hardly speak the language, yet they find it normal to translate into a language they do not speak. This trend is the same with professional translators. While many may have degrees in translation and communication, many simply just translate nonsense.
The result is Read the full story