Enabling the Economics of African Languages in Language Policies of South Africa and Zimbabwe





language economics, language policy, language revalorisation, linguistic capital , marginalisation


Although interest in studying the nexus of language economics and language planning has been increasing, much of it focuses on global languages such as English and how they facilitate speakers’ entry into job markets. In contexts where indigenous languages are still breaking into public domains of usage, proficiency in these languages is an important part of speakers’ human capital portfolio. The drive to develop and promote indigenous languages has thus become salient in the language policies of African countries. This paper draws on Pierre Bourdieu’s theoretical notion of ‘language as capital’ to discuss the intersection of language policy and language economics in South Africa and Zimbabwe. It examines how post-colonial language policy initiatives in education contribute to the revalorisation of indigenous African languages in a globalising world. We also build on the premise that for African languages to accrue prestige, enabling conditions must be created to foster their use. Language policies thus legitimatise and create opportunities for African languages in the linguistic market, potentially translating this linguistic capital into economic capital for their speakers. However, we argue that language policy proclamations must be complemented by implementation and continuous development of African languages to become attractive for acquisition and use.


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How to Cite

Siziba, L. and Maseko, B. (2024) “Enabling the Economics of African Languages in Language Policies of South Africa and Zimbabwe”, African Journal of Inter/Multidisciplinary Studies, 6(1), pp. 1–11. doi: 10.51415/ajims.v6i1.1351.