Language diversity in South Africa.Van der Merwe, I.J. & Van der Merwe, J.H. 2006. Linguistic atlas linguistic atlas
A set of maps recording the geographic distribution of variations in speech. Also called dialect atlas.
Noun 1. of South Africa South Africa, Afrikaans Suid-Afrika, officially Republic of South Africa, republic (2005 est. pop. 44,344,000), 471,442 sq mi (1,221,037 sq km), S Africa. : language in space and time. Stellenbosch: Sun Press. 102 p. Price: R250,00. ISBN ISBN
International Standard Book Number
ISBN International Standard Book Number
ISBN n abbr (= International Standard Book Number) → ISBN m : 1-919980-33-4.
The flux of population distributions over space and time reflects and reinforces the relationships between cultural communities and simultaneously alters the status of each relative to the other (Kaplan, 1994:46). (1)
The regular publications of linguistic atlases in South Africa since the 1980s provide ample evidence of the longitudinal flux of population distribution and the intercultural in·ter·cul·tur·al
Of, relating to, involving, or representing different cultures: an intercultural marriage; intercultural exchange in the arts. relationship of South African language communities.
For this reason the recent publication by Van der Merwe and Van der Merwe adds particular value to the notion of home language as a distinct variable that contributes to a clear portrayal of social diversity in South Africa. The mere fact that the subtitle sub·ti·tle
1. A secondary, usually explanatory title, as of a literary work.
2. A printed translation of the dialogue of a foreign-language film shown at the bottom of the screen.
tr.v. to the atlas points to an orientation in space and time gives indication of language diversity in South Africa as an ever-changing dynamic entity.
The introductory chapter is devoted to a brief theoretical explanation of what geolinguistics as an academic discipline entails. Apart from providing background information on the South African language policy framework and the methodological foundations of the atlas, it is made clear that the "spatial outcome of language location" as well as "language change in a time-space context" is central to the understanding of all language maps in the atlas. In summary, the atlas wishes to "provide a visual representation of the diverse geolinguistic realities in South Africa, the Western Cape The Western Cape is a province in the south west of South Africa. The capital is Cape Town. Prior to 1994, the region that now forms the Western Cape was part of the huge (and now defunct) Cape Province. and the Cape Town Cape Town or Capetown, city (1991 pop. 854,616), legislative capital of South Africa and capital of Western Cape, a port on the Atlantic Ocean. It was the capital of Cape Province before that province's subdivision in 1994. metropolitan area" (p. 4).
The second chapter contains information on the national geolinguistic patterns in South Africa and hosts a table with all 354 magisterial mag·is·te·ri·al
a. Of, relating to, or characteristic of a master or teacher; authoritative: a magisterial account of the history of the English language.
b. district codes, as well as the total population distribution and change between the national censuses of 1991 and 2001. A map depicting the natural South African landscape (topography and biomes) provides valuable background information.
Information on the natural landscape is followed by language maps and tables, firstly in summarised terms and then by means of detailed information per language for all eleven official languages. Value is added by the provision of succinct information on the origins of the respective languages, as well as tables summarising the language profiles of the different languages.
Chapter 2 concludes with maps on preponderant pre·pon·der·ant
Having superior weight, force, importance, or influence. See Synonyms at dominant.
pre·ponder·ant·ly adv. language distribution by means of which the number of speakers of the different official languages is compared. While the concentration of each language per spatial unit is presented, it also includes a comparison with similar values for 1991. In this way, useful information on language shifts that have occurred since then is presented.
The third chapter takes the geolinguistics of the Western Cape as point in case so as to supply a sub-regional resolution. The same methodological approaches that have been followed for the national maps are being employed. Therefore, information on the administrative units, the distribution and density of the total population, as well as detailed information on language composition, distribution and linguistic profiles of the three dominant languages of the Western Cape are supplied.
Finally, the fourth chapter focuses on the metropolitan geolinguistics of the metropolitan Cape Town, thus providing an urbanised resolution. Again, information is given on the administrative units, as well as typical geolinguistic information on the dominant languages used in Cape Town.
This publication could be regarded a worthy addition to the current range of linguistic atlases in South Africa. Albeit being a scholarly publication that gives evidence of theoretical principles typical of geolinguistics as an academic discipline, the atlas also hinges on clear research in application functions, and supplies useful information that could be applied in the language management environment.
It is envisaged that not only sociolinguists and language planners interested in the academics of geolinguistics would find the atlas useful, but also language managers working in different tiers of government.
(1) Kaplan, David H. 1994. Populations and politics in a plural society A plural society is defined by Fredrik Barth as a society combining ethnic contrasts: the economic interdependence of those groups, and the ecological specialization (i.e., use of different environmental resources by each ethnic group). : the changing geography of Canada's linguistic groups. Annals of the Association of American Geographers The Association of American Geographers (AAG) is an educational and scientific society aimed at advancing the understanding of, study of, and importance of geography and related fields. , 84(1):46-67.
Reviewer: Marlene Verhoef
Institutional Language Directorate,
Potchefstroom Campus The Potchefstroom campus of the North-West University (nicknamed "Pukke") was formerly known as the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education (abbreviated PU for CHE). It is a medium-sized South African university. , North West University