Theodorus du Plessis (University of the Free State, RSA), Victor Webb (University of Pretoria, RSA), Pol Cuvelier, (University of Antwerp, Belgium), Reinhild Vandekerckhove (University of Antwerp, Belgium), Michael Meeuwis (University of Ghent, Belgium)

The South African legislative framework for language provides for a mixed approach towards institutionalised multilingualism. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the required language legislation, policies and regulations are not efficiently implemented at grassroots level as English has become the de facto official and national language. Nevertheless, studies on language practices at grass-roots level in South Africa do point to bottom-up language policy-making initiatives that take cognisance of societal multilingualism and which benefit citizens. It is our contention that from a language interventionist perspective these bottom-up solutions are often not taken into account when top-down policies are formulated and approaches to language regulation are developed. It may be argued that a more coherent approach to institutionalised multilingualism will contribute to the empowerment of citizens at grassroots level and to the broadening of democracy.

This symposium follows on the one held in Antwerp during 2009, "Multilingualism from below", of which the proceedings were published during 2010 as the 8th volume in the Van Schaik series, Studies in Language Policy in South Africa. The objective of the current symposium is to draw together scholars from different fields and countries that work in the broad area of language in South Africa or study multilingual policies and practices which fit the conference theme in other regions or countries.

Topics for the colloquium may be drawn from the following themes:

  • Language access
  • Language and service delivery
  • Language in public administration
  • Language in education
  • Language services
  • Language in the public space
  • Language intervention
  • Language litigation
  • Language and identity
  • Language appropriation

A selection of the papers will be published as conference proceedings in the next volume of the Van Schaik publication series.

The conference page will be available soon on

Please submit your abstracts (100-250 words, in English) to Ms Chrismi-Rinda Kotze at  by June 22nd, 2012

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