Lan­guage is not a weapon

CityPress - - Voices -

Lan­guage is cul­ture. Lan­guage is a tool. Lan­guage is not a weapon. Puo ke moetlo. Puo ke sediriswa. Mme ebile ga e dirisiwe jaaka se­betsa.

Taal is kul­tuur. Taal is ’n hulp­mid­del. Taal is nie ’n wapen nie.

Lul­wimi lu­lusiko. Lul­wimi luyakha. Lul­wimi aku­siso sikhali.

Luambo ndi tshishu­miswa tsha u fhata hu si u vhu­la­hana, ndi mvelele ya lushaka lunwe na lunwe.

Rir­imi I mfuwo. Rir­imi I xi­tirho. Rir­imi a hi xod­layi.

Ul­wimi luy­isiko. Ul­wimi luyakha. Ul­wimi aku­sona isikhali.

Polelo ke setjo. Polelo ke sedirishwa. Polelo gase se­betja.

Lan­guage is a means of ex­pres­sion. It is Be­ing able to speak in our mother tongue is a right de­rived from be­ing hu­man.

Lan­guage is how we learn, so it is a tool. But it should never be a weapon or an ob­sta­cle.

In the doc­u­men­tary Luis­ter (Lis­ten), Univer­sity of Stel­len­bosch stu­dents re­veal that lan­guage is viewed as a weapon, an ex­er­cise in power, not some­thing cul­tural or a tool of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

It also sug­gested that Stel­len­bosch’s race zealots try to use lan­guage as a means of own­er­ship (the univer­sity is “ours”) and black stu­dents say that the dual lan­guage of in­struc­tion is im­ple­mented in a patchy fash­ion.

It needn’t be. The UN and its var­i­ous agen­cies bring to­gether peo­ple who speak in many tongues. Their sys­tems of trans­la­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­vide a ready tem­plate on how to make mul­tilin­gual­ism work in ac­tion.

To­day, tech­nol­ogy is cheap and an en­abling trans­la­tion and in­ter­pre­ta­tion sys­tem would give work to many lin­guis­tics grad­u­ates.

The vi­cious racism that black stu­dents com­plain about in the doc­u­men­tary makes Xolela Mangcu’s call for us to be­come a mul­tira­cial and an­tiracist democ­racy a re­sound­ing one. It’s time to start think­ing about whether non­ra­cial­ism should be our prin­ci­pal pivot. Is it time to re­place it with an­tiracism?

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