Speaking with a forked tongue about multilingualism in the language policy of a South African university
Antia, Bassey E.
van der Merwe, Chanel
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As part of a broader student campaign for ‘free decolonized education’, protests over language policies at select South African universities between 2015 and 2016 belied widespread positive appraisals of these policies, and revealed what is possibly an internal contradiction of the campaign. The discourse prior to the protests (e.g. “excellent language policies but problematic implementation”), during the protests (e.g. silence over the role of indigenous African languages in the “Afrikaans must fall” versus “Afrikaans must stay” contestations), and after the protests (e.g. English becoming a primary medium in some institutional policy reviews) warrant attention to critical literacy in language policy scholarship. Based on a theoretical account of speaking with a forked tongue, this article analyzes the language policy text of one South African university. The analysis suggests, simultaneously, why similar policies have tended to be positively appraised, why students’ calls for policy revisions were justified, but why the changes clamoured for arguably amount to complicity in self-harm.