Jo-Marie Claaasen


Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in i/lis - "Times change, and we adapt ourselves to I
are changed along with them." Whether classicists interpret the first person plural as
medial or passive depends on the degree to which, in every age, they rise to the occasion.
South African multilingualism is now statutorily acknowledged. It is further to be protected
by the institution of a Pan South African Language Board. The recognition of eleven
official languages is welcomed by all who value Language in the abstract as the most
important cultural product of any society. By giving official status to the home languages
of the greater part of South African society, the powers that be have not introduced a new
Babel. They have given value to and affirmed the importance of each citizen's "language of
the heart". Multilingualism is a fact of life in a large part of the world. This has been so
since the days of Ennius, whose tria corda gave recognition to Latin, Greek and his native
Oscan. In India today, in any given area, citizens are used to filling in official forms in one
language, perhaps going to school in another, using a third language in the shops, and
perhaps praying in a fourth. With the passing of colonialism the days have also passed in
which members of a particular Hernnvolk could hector subservient underlings in the
conqueror's own particular monolanguage, in the fond hope that loudness of tone would
ensure understanding. Now it is more a case of "unusquisque lingua sua" - each in his own

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