The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) today launched the Language Activism Month campaign at a function held at Ronnie Mamoepa Press Room, Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS), Cnr Francis Baard and Festival Street, Hatfield in Pretoria.
The campaign is centred on the International Mother Language Day (IMLD, a UNESCO public observance day that takes place on the 21st of February.
In delivering on the commitment made by government to ensure that N/uu, the oldest surviving San language currently with only four remaining fluent speakers, does not go extinct, PanSALB has partnered with Briza Publications to develop an audio-visual dictionary in N/uu, which was unveiled at the launch by Ouma Katrina Esau. The audio-visual dictionary, also called the Talking Dictionary, is the only dictionary that links key words and phrases to detailed full-colour illustrations and incorporates technology where readers can listen to the pronunciation of terms and phrases in different languages. This unique language education tool assists in the teaching and learning of vocabulary and phrases from the target language.
Various activities will be held throughout the month such as the HHP (Jabulani Tsambo) memorial lecture on 18 February, a Book Fair will be held on 20 February in Mafikeng, North West, and the International Mother Language Day celebration which will be held on 21 February 2020 in KwaZulu-Natal.
The PanSALB language activism campaign will on 28 February 2020 conclude its activities by handing over indigenous languages dictionaries to his Majesty, King Goodwill Zwelithini at KwaNongoma in KwaZulu-Natal. All these activities will be aimed at encouraging the use of mother tongue.
“As we celebrate our linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism, it is important that we continue reflecting on the Republic’s use of all official languages and other languages as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, including the so-called dialects” said PanSALB acting chief executive officer, Dr David Maahlamela.
This is in pursuance of PanSALB’s functions as outlined in the Constitution and the Pan South African Language Board Act 59 of 1995 (the Act).
“The hegemony of English poses a great threat to the survival of many of our languages. It is crucial therefore, that we not only seek to preserve our linguistic diversity but also ensure that we instil a sense of pride in one’s ability to fully articulate complex matters in their mother tongue. We ought to be deliberate in our efforts to effectively decolonise and intellectualise indigenous languages” added Dr Maahlamela.
It is hoped that, through this campaign, South Africans will acknowledge the importance of preserving African languages. South Africans can participate in the campaign by speaking their languages, reading a book written in their mother tongue and posting their activities on our social media sites using the #SpeakItLiveIt hashtag.