In pursuit of the African Dream – the slow and steady death of languages

Many years ago when I was at school (the dinosaur age, according to my sister) we learnt that in the English language you never started a sentence with a conjunction (joining word). If I remember correctly, conjunctions are words that join two parts of one sentence like “and” or”but”.

Everyday, whether reading the newspaper or a magazine, I find sentences starting with the word And or But. Sentence structure and grammar . . .  let’s not even go there.

Afrikaans – my Afrikaans teacher would be turning in her grave now if she could hear the Afrikaans being spoken today. English words turned into Afrikaans . . . the mind boggles. You just need to watch programmes on TV like 7de Laan and you will know exactly what I’m talking about.

IsiXhosa and IsiZulu are both so mixed that one does not know whether the person is actually IsiXhosa speaking or IsiZulu speaking. Even the elders in rural villages are complaining that they can no longer understand their Westernised children and grandchildren because they speak a different language now to what is spoken at home.

Spelling . . .  I’m not even going to attempt this one. Print media, electronic media, business correspondence, sub titles for TV programmes – have dictionaries become extinct? Why is it that few people seem to know the difference between “advice” and “advise”? or program (such as a computer program) and programme (event programme, TV programme etc)? When you have spelling errors in newspaper headlines, you know there is a serious problem. What happened to our proof readers? If they still exist – do they know the language they are proof reading?

An old song immediately comes to mind “where have all the flowers gone? long time passing . . . ” My version would be: “where have all the teachers gone? long time passing . . . “

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