English in Southern Africa

  • Finex Ndhlovu
  • Liqhwa Siziba


This chapter argues that the English language assumed the hegemonic status of language of access to political power and social and economic opportunities in southern Africa from the early years when it was introduced by the first waves of British immigrants. The superior and preponderant position of the English language that was imposed through the Anglicization policy that followed British occupation of the Cape Colony continues to this day. Therefore, the social and political history of English in southern Africa reflects the history of the global spread of the Anglophone version of Euro-North American modernity such as colonial imperialism, Western models of development (‘progress’) and Christianity as the ‘normative’ religion. For this reason, it is concluded that any discussion on the English language in southern Africa and the African continent in general has to be always located within broader social, political and economic contexts of world history dating back to the onset of the expansion of the so-called Western civilization.


African Englishes Anglicization Language hierarchies Language contact White South African English Black South African English(es) South African Indian English Coloured English Afrikaans English Official languages Language policies Elite closure Pragmatic functions of English Symbolic functions of English 


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Literature: Grammars, Dictionaries and Other Works

  1. The number of grammar books, dictionaries and other reference works that specifically focus on English in southern Africa is relatively small. This is because the teaching and learning of English in the region has always been based on material imported from the United Kingdom and other parts of the Anglosphere (usually, the British Commonwealth, or recently from the United States) where English has a very long history of documentation. The following are amongst the best known grammar books and dictionaries of the discussed varieties of English in Southern Africa.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Finex Ndhlovu
    • 1
  • Liqhwa Siziba
    • 2
  1. 1.University of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia
  2. 2.English DepartmentNorth West UniversityMafikengSouth Africa

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