Towards the Intellectualisation of Indigenous African Languages Through University Language Policies in South Africa


  • Liqhwa Siziba

    School of Languages, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, 1900, South Africa

Received: 26 February 2024 | Revised: 20 April 2024 | Accepted: 5 May 2024 | Published Online: 2 July 2024


Although the use of African languages as Languages of Teaching and Learning (LoTLs) at various academic levels and in various fields of knowledge has been gaining momentum, it is yet to be effectively implemented in some South African universities. Failure to implement the use of African languages as LoTLs has often been attributed to their lack of intellectualisation. Deploying Ruiz’s notion of language as a resource, this paper conducts a comparative analysis of language policies of two South African universities to establish how they enable the intellectualisation of indigenous African languages. Through a content analysis of the two universities’ recently revised language policies, the paper discusses the respective institutions’ commitment to the cause of language intellectualisation concerning African languages that have been selected for development as LoTLs. Universities that seek to implement the use of African languages as LoTLs need to come up with language policies that explicitly spell out their intellectualisation plans. The paper further argues that universities need not focus on language status planning only, but also on corpus planning to successfully implement the use of African languages as LoTLs.


Institutional language policies; Intellectualisation of African languages; Language as a resource; Language of teaching and learning; Terminology development


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