Deutsche Welle has written an article about a language struggle taking place in Zambia. The country gained independence from Britain about 50 years ago but English is still Zambia’s official language. ‘”The world is English” is a common saying in Zambia’, a belief that means many parents teach their children English as soon as they possibly can. Unfortunately this emphasis on teaching children English means Zambia’s own rich linguistic history is being forgotten. In Zambia ‘seven out of an estimated 70 local languages have official status: Bemba, Nyanja, Lozi, Tonga, Kaonde, Luvale and Lunda.’ With lesser importance being placed on local languages comes an inevitable loss of culture as teachings, sayings and stories cannot be passed down when different generations use different languages.

Many people will find it truly alarming that Zambia now has a generation of young people who haven’t mastered any language properly. They can’t speak their mother tongue and their command of English is faulty.

Nine-year-old Natasha Banda from northern Zambia can’t speak any of her country’s local languages. “My mum never taught me my traditional language,” she told DW. “I am just sitting at the table and they are speaking this certain language, I am not sure (which). All I know is English,” she said.

Not everyone is keen to blame the English language for the decline in local languages however. Friday Mulenga, a historian at the University of Zambia, told DW ‘”If parents don’t teach their children their mother tongue, it is not the fault of English. English is a global language, we need it whether you like it or not!”‘


via: DW