Almost all the British papers have carried the story this week that Gladstone Primary School in Peterborough has not a single native English speaking pupil out of 450. Predictably the story as run by the Daily Mail and the Daily Express is slanted towards the anti-immigration lobby, but the reason I mention it here is that the Mail, although not the Express, or any other report that I can find, talks about European and Asian languages (many of which are named, including Dari), but adds “and four African dialects”.
Is this purely ignorance on the part of the author, Andrew Levy, or is it a way of subliminally introducing racism – that the linguistic codes used in Africa are not worthy of the designation “language”?
Linguistically there is no reason for distinguishing between the two groups of languages. I had thought that the use of “dialect”, to mean an obscure language spoken in out of the way places, had died out by now, but I was obviously mistaken.
All the reports, including the Mail and Express ones, do point out that the school has been given a good report following the latest visit by Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools.