Standard in Setswana in Botswana

Author: Nfila, Bokang Itumeleng


Educational level: MA (Setswana)

Discipline: African Languages

University: University of Pretoria

Abstract: Standard languages have become a very important instrument of communication in most multilingual countries. Botswana is one of the Southern African countries that have a number of languages, hence the need for a standard language was chosen. Setswana consists of a number of dialects but none of these dialects has been used as a basis for standard Setswana; instead, dialects have been combined to form a standard variety. The aim of this study is to investigate and discuss the problems regarding the state of standard Setswana in Botswana, and the processes followed in standardising Setswana in Botswana. A questionnaire was used as an instrument for data collection. Eight schools from different educational levels, namely primary schools, junior secondary schools, senior secondary schools and colleges of education were chosen for the study. The study was limited to Setswana teachers and to the National Setswana Language Council (NSLC) members. Two different questionnaires were designed for these respondents. The study has revealed that although standard Setswana exists in Botswana, the variety is not well known by most of the Batswana and they do not use it. Batswana do not seem to take standard Setswana seriously, as they think it does not benefit them economically. However, the study indicates that most Setswana teachers value the standard variety and would like other Batswana to take it seriously and regard it as an important communicative tool. The study found that one of the problems that hinders the progress of implementing standard Setswana in schools is the lack of suitable material. The National Setswana Language Council faces the same problem. Another problem identified during the research is that some respondents cannot differentiate between standard Setswana as a variety of Setswana and Setswana as a language. This indicates that the Batswana were never made aware of thestandard variety nor of its importance; hence, it is not adequately known and used in high public functions. The study also analysed the National Setswana Language Council, the body responsible for Setswana language issues in Botswana. The Council deals with the whole process of language standardisation, as well as the accuracy and proficiency of language use. However, the study revealed that of the four stages in the process of standardization; (selection, elaboration, codification and acceptance), the Council seems to have succeeded with selection and a part of codification. The orthography has been standardised but not yet published. Other stages, such as acceptance and elaboration, need to be revisited. The study consists of six chapters. Chapter One outlines the purpose of the study as well as the problem statement. The sociolinguistic profile of Botswana and the Setswana language profile are also discussed. Chapter Two presents the theoretical framework, while Chapter Three discusses the historical background of the Setswana-speakers, the history of Setswana and the development of standard Setswana by the missionaries. Methods and techniques of data collection are dealt with in Chapter Four, while Chapter Five presents data analysis and interpretation. Summary, findings, conclusion and recommendations are presented in Chapter Six. © 2002, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.Please cite as follows: Nfila, BI 2002, Standard in Setswana in Botswana, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < >H440/ag

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Keywords: Tswana language stadardization


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