African Languages, Development and the State

By Richard Fardon; Graham Furniss | Go to book overview

13

The metaphors of development and modernization in Tanzanian language policy and research

Jan Blommaert

INTRODUCTION
This paper aims to analyse the conceptual background against which an African tradition of thinking about language, and working on language, has emerged. 1 After Independence the Tanzanian Government introduced, stimulated and promoted research by Tanzanians on the new national language Kiswahili (Kihore 1976; Abdulaziz Mkilifi 1972). Gradually, the structures of Kiswahili research and language planning, initiated by the German and British colonial administrations (Wright 1965; Snoxall 1985), were adopted by Tanzanians, and a new discourse on Kiswahili was developed. I will concentrate on features of this new discourse, more precisely, on two key metaphors consistently used since Independence to denote the intention of the Tanzanian Government and parastatal research institutes with regard to Kiswahili: ‘development’ and ‘modernization’. For this purpose, I shall use the journal Kiswahili (formerly Swahili), published by the Institute of Kiswahili Research (TUKI: Taasisi ya Uchunguzi wa Kiswahili) of the University of Dar es Salaam as primary textual evidence. TUKI is the official Kiswahili research centre, where priorities and requests formulated by the Tanzanian authorities are implemented. It has an advisory function, and all its proposals have to be sanctioned by the Government body BAKITA (Baraza la Kiswahili la Taifa, ‘National Kiswahili Council’). Proposed terminology, coined by TUKI researchers, thus has to be approved by BAKITA officers before it can be disseminated. The journal Kiswahili provides us with a picture of:
1 the types of research done on Kiswahili within the official Tanzanian linguistic circles;
2 the way in which this research is being done, viz. by whom, with what theoretical and methodological instruments, in what domains, and for what purpose;
3 the general attitudes and ideology underlying linguistic research.

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