Why English dominates the central economy
An economic perspective on ‘elite closure’ and South African language policy
This paper sets out to formulate some of the economic reasons for the continuing dominance of English in the boardrooms, government forums, parastatals and laboratories of South Africa, to consider whether this situation is likely to change, and to assess the extent to which such a state of affairs is at odds with South Africa’s new language policy. The historical reasons for the dominance of English in this sphere are well known: the language’s imperial history, its status as a world language, its role as a medium for political opposition during the apartheid conflict, and the accumulation of capital and economic influence by English-speakers from the mid-nineteenth century onward. However, the day-to-day economic basis for the continuing dominance of English at the apex of South African society has hardly been considered.
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