The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) has declared February “Language Month,” writes Mmanaledi Mataboge-Mashetla in City Press.
While teaching in mother-tongue languages in South Africa was relegated to the backburner early in the democratic era, these days more South Africans are becoming conscious of the worth of their mother tongue and more “protective of this valued part of their identity,” she says, citing debates on foundation-phase mother-tongue teaching.
PanSALB is encouraging South Africans to use their mother tongue in the course of February, as part of a “’28 days of language activism’ crusade.” The aim is to recognise “the importance of preserving African languages while promoting multilingualism.”
Having been proclaimed by Unesco in 1999, International Mother Tongue Day – February 21 – has been celebrated annually since 2000.
Events organised by PanSALB to observe Language Month include dictionary promotion activities in Johannesburg (6-10 February), public hearings in Pretoria (from 13 February), and a public lecture and awards ceremony to bring the campaign to a close on the last day of the month.