The mismatch between language policy and language practice : status planning for isiZulu in a multilingual and multicultural society.
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Although isiZulu has been accorded official status by the constitution of the country, the language continues to be marginalised in the private and public sectors. This illustrates that there is a considerable mismatch between the language policy on the one hand, and language practice on the other hand in these sectors. This is due largely to the problems associated with the practical implementation of the language policy. This study sets out to investigate the attitudes of Zulu and non-Zulu speakers at selected private and public sector institutions to gauge how these speakers feel about isiZulu and what can be done to promote the language in this region. Against this background, an empirical investigation comprising a questionnaire survey, which produced descriptive and inferential statistical data, was undertaken. Data were gathered by means of questionnaires from a random sample of Zulu and non-Zulu speakers from the eThekwini region. Semistructured interviews were conducted with Zulu and non-Zulu speakers at selected private and public sector institutions in this region. Data gathered from the semi-structured interviews were used to complement data from the questionnaires. The main findings indicate that among Zulu speakers, isiZulu has entrenched its position in the domestic domain because it is the main language of communication with family members, friends and neighbours. However, the language has not yet established itself in the commercial sector. The findings reveal that Zulu speakers are proud of isiZulu and they feel that the language has the potential to be used in all spheres of society. The majority of non-Zulu speakers on the other hand, consider isiZulu an important requirement for employment opportunities. They also feel that the isiZulu is going to play an important role in the future and it is imperative that people acquire the language so that they can communicate effectively with the majority in this region. Since the majority of Zulu speakers and non-Zulu speakers in this study display positive attitudes towards isiZulu it augurs well for the future development of the language. Based on the main findings, detailed recommendations are suggested to enhance the practical implementation of isiZulu in the eThekwini region and in other parts of KwaZulu-Natal.
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