When death meets languages, they remain alive
Keywords:African languages, Kimbundu, necropolitics, language attitudes
This paper aims to reflect on the attempts on the lives of African languages, which experienced colonization, through the linguistic attitudes towards them in the colonial period and today. We discuss the metaphor of death directed at languages, we use the concept of necropolitics applied to language, as it concerns the control of the right to live or die, we discuss the right to kill extended to African languages in colonial society, and, specifically, we reflect on the attempts on the life of languages that suffered colonization even today, and we look at the linguistic attitudes towards Kimbundu, the language of Angola. In view of the analyses, we observed two linguistic attitudes: a) absence of naming and specifying the language to which the vocabulary in Kimbundu belongs; and b) differentiated treatment between European and African languages. We believe that these linguistic attitudes stem from discourses belonging to the same colonial discursive formation and threaten the life of African languages even today. We observe a certain limitation of the use of these languages, just as in the colonial period, there is a circumscription of the space that African languages should occupy, they are not in equal space in the text in relation to the languages of European origin. We consider that in the realm of language, necropolitics in the colony was guided by the desire for the social death of African languages in society expressed through laws that prohibited their use. Today necropolitical actions can also be expressed by attitudes that seek to circumscribe African languages to specific spaces, assigning less social value when compared to European languages. Despite the different necropolitical actions experienced since the colonial period, African languages are still alive.
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