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Welcome to Multilingualism in society

The Department of Linguistics at UWC is known for its orientation towards Applied Linguistics.


 Multilingualism in society


The Department of Linguistics at UWC is known for its orientation towards Applied Linguistics. Its strengths lie specifically in the areas ofmultilingualism, sociolinguistics / semiotics, systemic functional linguistics, critical discourse analysis and the politics and historiography of language. Drawing on all these strengths, it has developed a research focus area entitled “Multilingualism in Society”, which centres specificallyaround multilingualism as a resource for democratic participation and social and political action aimed at developing individuals and communities. This collection of research initiatives happens within a context of massive global change on many levels and of great mobility across borders. Thus we are specifically interested in the role of language in socio-political transformation under these late modern conditions.

The two prime objectives of the research initiatives under the umbrella of “Multilingualism in Society” are (1) understanding the role of multilingualism as a resource in participatory democracy and (2) finding ways of facilitating speakers’ access to valued linguistic capital (language skills with symbolic and economic exchange value). By promoting access to linguistic capital and, in so doing, encouraging agency and voice, particularly of the disenfranchised, this research contributes to promoting socio-economic development, not only in South Africa, but also elsewhere in Africa and the world. There are ten key research components in this project:

• Practices and Ideologies of Multilingualism – three projects (Felix Banda, Charlyn Dyers & Chris Stroud)

• Multimodality in Entertainment and Educational Contexts (Bassey Antia & Felix Banda)

• Multilingualism and Identity – five projects (Feliz Banda, Zannie Bock & N. Dlayedwa)

• Multilingual Citizenship and Cities in Transition – five projects (Chris Stroud, Felix Banda & E. Byland)

• Terminology in the context of Language Planning and Education (Bassey Antia)

• Mobile Literacy Practices – three projects (Charlyn Dyers, Felix Banda, Chris Stroud & A. Deumert)

• Multilingualism in education – four projects (Felix Banda & Chris Stroud)

• Language and Translation across national and ethno-cultural boundaries – two projects (Felix Banda)

• Recontextualisation of HIV/AIDS Messaging (Bassey Antia, Felix Banda & Chris Stroud)

• Multilingual Citizenship (Chris Stroud)

• The Sociolinguistics of Superdiversity – four projects (Chris Stroud)

Funding for these initiatives have come from the NRF, the VLIR-funded Cities in Transition Project, SANPAD, UWC and the Max Planck Institute.

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