Publication details [#62595]

Makoni, Busi. 2017. Status of “women’s language” in a multilingual jurisdiction: power and ethics in legal monolingualism. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 2017 (243) : 133–153.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
De Gruyter


Drawing from Fishman’s ideas on language planning and multilingualism, this paper examines isihlonipho sabafazi ‘women’s language of respect’, a variety of the Ndebele language spoken in Zimbabwe, as a minority language by assaying the attitudes and ideologies directed at female isihlonipho speakers by male and female legal experts in rape trials. The findings propose that language planning is an elitist enterprise that hides inequities and induces injustice under the guise of law. As speakers of isihlonipho do not adjust to the dominant language ideology, they face dual marginality and are refused access to justice. This, in turn, raises notable questions about power and ethics in language planning in that while language planning may handle issues of multilingualism, at minimum it handles diversity from without and not within.