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How Many Official Languages in South Africa

How Many Official Languages in South Africa

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South Africa, with a population of almost 55 million people, has three official languages: English, Afrikaans, and Afrikaans as first language or mother tongue for about 57% of the population. There are also many indigenous languages in South Africa. These languages include Setswana, Xitsonga, Siswati, SiSwati, SiNdebele and SiSotho. South Africa has set up its own constitution to ensure that all citizens have equal rights. Article 11(3) of the South African Constitution states that in order to promote the official use of any other language it is necessary to provide for that language to be used as an additional official language throughout the country. This article further stipulates that where two or more than two official languages are used at the same time in a given locality, then the local government must make provisions for each language to be used as an additional official language wherever necessary.

What is the difference between an official language and a working language?

An official language is a language that is recognised or used as a national language. Working languages are those that are used in the operation of government and in dealings with foreign governments and are recognised or used as an official language at the national level. In South Africa there are three official languages: English, Afrikaans, and Afrikaans as first language or mother tongue for about 57% of the population. There are also many indigenous languages in South Africa. These languages include Setswana, Xitsonga, Siswati, SiSwati, SiNdebele and SiSotho.

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List of South African Official Languages

English Afrikaans Afrikaans as first language or mother tongue for about 13% of the population Setswana Xitsonga Siswati SiSwati SiNdebele SiSotho

Why is it important to know about the official languages in South Africa?

For one thing, having a diverse population is a sign of a healthy society. Diversity helps to ensure that people are valued in different ways, and thus, it is a sign of a sustainable future. Secondly, having a diverse range of languages also opens up new and exciting career paths, as more people are able to communicate and work in a given language. There are also many benefits that come with being multilingual, such as better cognitive abilities, enhanced problem-solving skills, and, most importantly, an ability to understand and appreciate other cultures and how they function.

How Many People Speak Which Languages?

According to an Afrobarometer survey in 2016, English was spoken by about 74% of the population, Afrikaans by about 9%, and a handful of other languages were spoken by about 5% of people. If a person were to count all the other languages as well as the majority three languages, that translates to about 80% of the population.

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Native Languages in South Africa

Setswana Xitsonga Siswati SiSwati SiNdebele SiSotho

Bilingualism in South Africa

Due to the large variety of languages in South Africa, the government has recognised the importance of bilingualism in the country. Since the beginning of time, humans have had to learn more than one language. This has resulted in a significant bilingual population in South Africa. It has been found that bilingual individuals have better language skills and are often more successful because of their capacity to communicate in multiple languages. South Africa has therefore set up its own constitution to ensure that all citizens have equal rights. Article 11(3) of the South African Constitution states that in order to promote the official use of any other language it is necessary to provide for that language to be used as an additional official language throughout the country. This article further stipulates that where two or more than two official languages are used at the same time in a given locality, then the local government must make provisions for each language to be used as an additional official language wherever necessary.

Summary

South Africa, with a population of almost 55 million people, has three official languages: English, Afrikaans, and Afrikaans as first language or mother tongue for about 57% of the population. There are also many indigenous languages in South Africa. These languages include Setswana, Xitsonga, Siswati, SiSwati, SiNdebele and SiSotho. South Africa has set up its own constitution to ensure that all citizens have equal rights. Article 11(3) of the South African Constitution states that in order to promote the official use of any other language it is necessary to provide for that language to be used as an additional official language throughout the country. This article further stipulates that where two or more than two official languages are used at the same time in a given locality, then the local government must make provisions for each language to be used as an additional official language wherever necessary. South Africa has a diverse population with many different languages, making it a great place to live.

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