Which multilingualism do you speak? Translanguaging as an integral part of individuals’ lives in the Casamance, Senegal

by Miriam Weidl

21 Jun 2022
Journal of the British Academy
Digital Object Identifier
Number of pages
27 (pp. 41-67)

Pages in this section

Abstract: Senegal is a West African country that is highly diverse and multilingual on a societal and individual level. Multilingualism is used in most interactions of peoples’ everyday lives in a translanguaging fashion. Yet, beside some small efforts, the only official language in the institutional sector and education remains French. However, educational systems and language policies do not reflect the reality of the people they are created for since monolingualism often only plays a minor role in their lives. Based on empirical data collected in the Casamance, this article focuses in particular on these issues through displaying multilingualism as an adapting system that moves within the social environments while integrating different languages, intermixed in a way that is appropriate for its speakers in respective situations. On the basis of case examples, concepts are presented for the reinforcement of multilingualism with potential to strengthen local languages and cultures from the inside out.

Keywords: Casamance, Senegal, West Africa, multilingualism, education, translanguaging, language policy, linguistic realities.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 10, supplementary issue 4 (Rethinking Multilingualism: Education, Policy and Practice in Africa).

Sign up to our email newsletters