Language Repertoires and State Construction in Africa

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Most African countries have a population composed of a multitude of language groups and most African citizens have a varied repertoire allowing them to rely on different languages for use in the home, at school, in the market, at work and in communicating with political authorities. Language Repertoires and State Construction in Africa analyses the complex language scene in Africa today and asks whether this distinctive web of language use is symptomatic of the early stage of state construction. If so, one would expect that as each of these states develops there will be a rationalisation of language use and agreement on a common language within the country's borders. Alternately, Africa's language scene may be the result of a particular historical context of state construction, with the implication that political development will not lead to the one-state, one-language outcome typical of the idealised nation-state.