SOUTH AFRICA: Bilingual by the Month

The Union of South Africa has long had language trouble. Of its citizens, 1,226,382 speak Afrikaans (a simplified version of Dutch); 875,541 speak English; only 35,889 speak both. Since the country was officially declared bilingual in 1925, all official communications were supposed to be written in both Afrikaans and English; but in bureaucratic practice, a letter written in English was answered in English, a petition phrased in Afrikaans answered in Afrikaans. Last week the Department of Defense decided to end this haphazard arrangement. Setting a fashion which the whole government is expected to follow soon, the Department decreed that henceforth...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!