Complementary and conflicting discourses of linguistic diversity: implications for language planning

  • Sinfree Makoni
  • Barbara Trudell


Although the promotion of linguistic diversity is one of the main goals of language policy and planning in Africa, few attempts have been made to analyse how linguistic diversity has been construed in Africa within the different types of language planning discourses, and the implications of such discourses on language policy and planning. In this article we identify three main types of discourses of linguistic diversity: (i) linguistic diversity and the autonomy of language, (ii) linguistic diversity as problematic oddity, and (iii) linguistic diversity, identity and rights. In the article we demonstrate that these various discourses of linguistic diversity are both complementary and conflicting. We conclude the article by exploring the complexity of the relationships between these discourses as they affect language policy and planning.


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Author Biographies

Sinfree Makoni
Sinfree Makoni has published extensively in Applied Linguistics. His special areas of interest are language and health, language and aging and language use in urban African environments. Email:
Barbara Trudell
Barbara Trudell works for SIL International and has done extensive work in building capacity of leaders in minority languages in Peru and sub-Saharan Africa.Email: