The maintenance of the minority languages of Africa will largely depend on the degree to which these languages are able either to expand their domains of use by embracing some socio-economic functions or to gain social status through some form of symbolic value (Crawhall, 1998). Normally, the symbolic value, which is usually attitudinal, is determined by subjective or nominal esteem that the speakers may develop towards their language. This paper examines the place and role of language documentation as an important strategy in the empowerment of the minority languages. It provides examples from several case studies in Botswana, where speakers of minority languages, particularly those of Khoesan origin, have developed not only positive attitudes towards their languages, but also are actively using and promoting them. Language maintenance has therefore been possible through this added symbolic value.
Selected Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference on African Linguistics: Linguistic Theory and African Language Documentation
edited by Masangu Matondo, Fiona Mc Laughlin, and Eric Potsdam
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