Hello South Africa

Phrasebook, 11 Official Languages

Publisher: Hello South Africa Publishing
ISBN: 9780620462983
Reviewed by Rosalie Finlayson, Professor Emerita, Department of African Languages, University of South Africa

At a recent launch of the Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development 2011-2025 in South Africa, Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande, recommended that every university student in South Africa be required to learn one African language as a condition for graduating.

While this statement may be controversial, it cannot be denied that communicating and building relationships with our fellow South Africans through speaking each other’s languages is something that should have taken place a long time ago. While the Minister was referring to university graduates, the acquisition of an African language should begin much earlier, and developing a communicative competence in an additional African language should happen in an interesting and enjoyable manner.

This brings me to the value of Hello South Africa™ – Phrasebook, 11 Official Languages. This pocket-sized, user-friendly book contains more than 600 phrases regarding 30 topics in all South Africa’s official languages. It is a gem that will provide our learners the opportunity to interact more readily and easily across linguistic boundaries.

Beautifully illustrated and clearly articulated, Hello South Africa’s value in particular lies in its use as a communication tool, offering pronunciation guides in a simplified phonetic transcription using English as the base language. It is a creative ready-reference, colour-coded phrasebook that gives a refreshing insight into our official languages and cultures.

Language and culture are inextricably intertwined. In a paper on language and identity in urban South Africa, Slabbert & Finlayson1 note that “[T]he diverse communities that inhabit this region are striving for a clearer understanding of their own multiple identities in relationship with the languages spoken in the region, as well as striving
for functional ways in which to manage this relationship.” Hello South Africa is an educational resource that introduces the basics of communicative multilingualism, while also embracing multiculturalism at school level. It is a resource from which every learner would benefit.

Reference
1 Finlayson, R. and Slabbert, S. (eds) (2005) Language and Identities in a Postcolony: Southern African Perspectives. Peter Lang.

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Category: Book Reviews, Winter 2011

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