English and Afrikaans represent South Africa’s two official languages, but there are many other languages within South Africa. The white population mainly speaks the two official languages the black and Asian populations speak a much wider variety of languages. English is used more frequently in the commercial sense and so is printed advertising even the advertising that is directed at the population that is not white. While English is used in printed advertising other forms of advertising are not so singular. Radio advertising is broadcast in nine different African languages, and television advertising is conducted in five of those languages. The use of African language advertising and broadcasting is likely to increase in order to reach more black consumers. The predominant African languages are Xhosa (16 percent), Zulu (36 percent), Northern Sotho (14 percent), Southern Sotho (11 percent), Swazi (4 percent), Tswana (8 percent), Shangaan/Tsonga (5 percent), Northern Ndebele (1 percent), Southern Ndebele (2 percent), and Venda (1 percent). Languages spoken by the Asian population include Tamil (2 percent), Hindi (2 percent), Gujerati (2 percent), and Urdu (1 percent).
In Business the two official languages of English and Afrikaans dominate most transactions. The majority of firms in South Africa engage in business using both languages. Most of the white population also is fluent in both languages, while a considerable proportion of the nonwhite population speaks English and Afrikaans as well. There is some language sensitivity in South Africa, particularly among the Afrikaners population; to appease this sensitivity many companies print much of their literature, including annual statements, in both languages.
At the center of communication within South Africa lie differences. The differences not only between the multitude of languages, but the differences in people. You cannot address the issue of communication without coming back the subject that lies at the heart of most cultural implications within South Africa, race. With South Africa being the last country to abolish the integration of government and racism the animosity and distrust still runs rampant. Even in the United States where the archaic system of governmental racism was abolished far before South Africa there lies a multitude of problems in cross-cultural communication. These differences must be taken into account if a person is to be successful managing in South Africa. There are even differences among the whites in South Africa. Partially the whites are made up of British settler descendants and the others are the descendants of the German, French, and Dutch (these are know as the Afrikaners) These two white groups even communicate differently and behave with different temperamentally. The British descendants much like the British at home are reserved and extremely polite, while Afrikaners prefer a more abrupt “straight-shooting” style and are often more closed off to foreigners and business dealing within South Africa. However you approach business and management in South Africa you must be aware of the vast differences that make up the people and the diversity of this country fraught with difficulties, yet with the possibilities of a limitless future.
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