Sinfree Makoni teaches in the Department of Applied Linguistics and Program in African Studies at Pennsylvania State University in the United States. He is Extraordinary Professor at North Western University in South Africa. He has published extensively and his work appears in a number of journals which include: Current Issues in Language Policy, Journal of Multicultural Discourses, Language in Society, Language, Culture and Society. His research is largely into colonial linguistics, language policy and planning, Southern Epistemologies and philosophies of language. His most recent books are Innovations and Challenges in Applied Linguistics from the Global South with Alastair Pennycook (Routledge 2019) and Language Policy and Planning Semiotics of Space and Ethnicities with Ashraf Abdebhay and Cristine Severo (Cambridge Scholars 2019).
Southern Multilingualisms: Toward Decolonizing the Sociolinguistics of Africa
Contemporary sociolinguistic scholarship takes it as axiomatic that the world is multilingual. The conceptual shift toward multilingualism has not been predicated on any prior philosophical analysis of the ‘natures’ of language ( Hauck & Heurich 2018) or any systematic enquiry into the questions of which type of, and whose, multilingualisms with which we are dealing. There are two emerging trends in sociolinguistics, but neither addresses the epistemologies and indigenous ontologies of language that are necessary in an analysis of multilingualisms. The first trend avoids the use of the notion of language or languages through frameworks such as ‘languaging’, discourse and community or performance and discourse: the second may seek to expand our horizons of linguistic communication through terms such as multimodality, semiotic systems, and gestures but may, at the s ame time , maintain a commitment to languages as identifiable enumerable entities as illustrated in the variants of research on multimodality based on systemic functional grammar. Neither approach addresses the underlying question of the epistemologies and ontologies of language. In this presentation I seek to address the underlying notion of southern multilingualisms by drawing on assemblages of southern epistemologies and indigenous ontologies based on metaphors complemented with indigenous cosmologies, ubuntu-nepantla, and the notion of ‘entangled electrical wires’ (Bou Ayash 2019) from sprawling urban slums. In this presentation I will illustrate the use of the term ‘lay person’ can be utilized to facilitate a decolonization of applied linguistics because modern disciplines, such as linguistics and anthropology, are viscerally tied to colonialism. By taking into account indigenous cosmovisions I can start to move away from either from both monolingual and multilin gual ori entations toward language.