apartheid,in which only white South Africans had political power and the rest of the population were oppressed.0ne element of the system's institutional discrimination was that only Afrikaans,a variant of the Dutch language,and English were recognized as official languages even though only one-fifth of the population,mostly white,were native speakers of either.
When South Africa freed itself from apartheid,it adopted the
moniker“Rainbow Nation”to express the value it now placed on the country's rich human diversity,including its linguistic diversity.To new leaders such as Nelson Mandela,language discrimination,or 1llngulclsm,was as important an issue as the other“一isms”that had thrived under apartheid such as racism and classism.Thus,when the new constitution was ratified in1996,it recognized all 11 major South African languages as officia1.The goal of the constitutional framers was to establish equality among all of the languages in South Africa so that the mostly white speakers of English and Afrikaans would no longer be privileged in schools,government,or the workplace.
This ideal has been hard to live up to.0ne challenge has been that
under apartheid,many of the tools of modern business and technology never had the opportunity to develop in indigenouslanguages.Although, with support from the government,software developers have begun to provide popular software applications in languages such as Zulu and Xhosa,this remains a time-consuming and expensive proposition. Another difficulty is the prevalence of English.English appeals to many South Africans as a national lingua franca because it is more widely spoken than any other language in the country.Many teaching professionals feel that it is simply not practical to provide school texts and government documents in 11 languages,and investing scarce resources to teach English seems a more sensible solution to the problem of language discrimination.Moreover,considering the dominant position of English in international commerce,mass communication,and science,the economic value of competence in English is clear.