Language Repertoires and State Construction in Africaby David D. Laitin, Laitin David D.
Pub. Date: 12/28/2006
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
The author of two previous books on African political culture, David Laitin turns in this book to the study of language planning in Africa and the role of language politics in the process of state formation. Written in an engaging style, the book takes the reader into the complex web of language use in Africa today, where the average citizen must employ a multitude… See more details below
The author of two previous books on African political culture, David Laitin turns in this book to the study of language planning in Africa and the role of language politics in the process of state formation. Written in an engaging style, the book takes the reader into the complex web of language use in Africa today, where the average citizen must employ a multitude of different languages for use in the home, at school, in the marketplace, and on the job. African state governments must confront a number of difficult questions concerning language, such as which language of many should be the official national languageif anyand which language should be used in schools. Decisions on these questions are shown to be an important part of the process of state formation, and by making comparison to European cases, Laitin asks whether the complexity of language use in Africa today is symptomatic of early state construction, and if so, whether states must move inevitably toward a common language as they develop. He uses the logic of game theory to argue that a common language is not the inevitable solution, and proposes that in Africa the optimal solution to the language problem will be what he calls a 3 + 1 outcome, which will allow for multiple language use.
Table of Contents
Preface; Part I. Language Repertoires and the State: 1. Language repertoires as political outcomes; 2. Three theories explaining language outcomes; 3. Do language outcomes matter?; Part II. Sociological and Political Forces Described: 4. The micro dynamics of language use in contemporary Africa; 5. Macro forces shaping the contemporary language situation in Africa; Part III. Strategic Theory Applied: 6. Strategic theory and Africa's language future; 7. Case studies from independent Africa; Part IV. Conclusion and Policy Recommendations: 8. Shaping the 3 + 1 language state; Notes; References; Index.
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