Vol. 19:1 (1998) ► pp.33–60
English in the South African Defence Force
A Case Study of 6SAI
The article reports on research carried out at an army camp in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa in 1996; it aimed to examine language use at the camp across all levels and in all contexts, in order to assess the degree to which South Africa's new multilingual language policy of 1994 has taken root, and in particular to ascertain the extent to which English was being used, and what troops and staff felt about its use. Questionnaires, interviews and observation techniques were used to provide a full description of linguistic practices, views and attitudes at all levels and in a wide range of activities in the camp. Results suggest that despite the national language policy, and despite a very low number of L1 English speakers in the camp, English is playing a very significant role across all levels as lingua franca for efficient communication, and this is matched with a pervasively positive view about its continued use.
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