Salomone Presents at International Legal Linguistics Workshop


On December 10th, Professor Rosemary Salomone presented a paper at the 5th International Legal Linguistics Workshop hosted by the Austrian Association of Legal Linguistics and the Department of African Language Studies at the University of the Western Cape (South Africa).

Her paper, “Transformative Constitutionalism: The South African Constitutional Court and Shifting Narratives on Language Rights to Education,” uses decisions of the Court beginning in 2010 to examine the role of language in redressing the wrongs of the past through the country’s “transformative” Constitution. In each case, the Court relied on language in the Constitution recognizing the right to “receive education in the official language or languages of [one’s] choice” taking into account “equity, practicability, and the need to redress the result of past discriminatory laws and practices.”

Salomone argues that interpreting this language over the course of recent years, the Court seems to have shifted from healing, reconciliation, and reparation—undoing a history of racial supremacy tied to Afrikaans and its association with apartheid—to a more inclusive, future looking, and less politically charged multilingual narrative. She explores the potential and the limits of this interpretive turn, along with changed Court membership, for reshaping policies on English, Afrikaans, and other African languages across the education spectrum while realizing the Constitution’s vision to transform the country’s social and political institutions.