Role of the language industry


Having listened to the 2017 budget presentation by Minister Pravin Gordhan, I am of the view that the presentation is commendable in that a large emphasis has been put on the long overdue radical transformation of the economy of our country. The minister highlighted the need for diversification and inclusivity in our economy.

This, in our view, is a clarion call upon industries such as the language industry to stand up and be counted as critical spokes in the economic wheel of our country. It is high time that the language industry takes its place as envisaged in the National Development Plan 2030, or at least make itself more visible in this space.

The National Development Plan envisages a situation where all South Africans speak an African language and proposes that government programmes “should work to make this a reality”. It further proposes that business “should encourage and reward employees” who learn at least one indigenous language.

The language industry in its various disciplines – translation, interpreting and editing – is well positioned to execute on this call through collaboration with government, business, labour and institutions of higher learning, both in the public and private sectors.

It is common cause that government has created an environment, through legislation, in which the language industry should be able to thrive. This environment is founded on the provisions of the Constitution, the Use of Official Languages Act as well as the South African Language Practitioners Council Act, among others.

Executing on this requires vision, enthusiasm, passion and determination. The participation and support of all three social partners namely government, business and labour should be elicited as all three in the final analysis stand to benefit from the success of the language industry.

It is, therefore, desirable that the partners be made aware of the benefits that may flow from exploiting the expertise resident in the language industry. The knowledge embedded in such expertise can make an enormous contribution to the attainment of efficiencies, the enhancement of safety standards, the improvement of employee relations, the penetration of markets as well as the creation of a cohesive society.

Yes, indeed Minister Gordhan, “Ditau ge di shumishana di ka bolaya nare.” (If lions work as a team they will bring down even a buffalo). The language industry is one such lion.




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This edition

Issue 68