ACADEMICS AT WORK ON ONLINE MULTILINGUAL SA WEB DICTIONARY

Digital Content

An online Northern Sotho-English dictionary has been launched by a group of academics called TshwaneDJe to promote interest in the official indigenous languages of South Africa, writes Stephen Whitford of ItWeb.

TshwaneDJe is an initiative of Professor Danie Prinsloo, who also heads up the African Languages department at the University of Pretoria, and Gilles-Maurice de Schryver, a Belgian researcher of African languages. Together with David Joffe, who created the website AfricanLanguages.com, they hope to provide language reference and learning materials for the nine indigenous African languages. They all work on the project in their spare time. Joffe says there is a lack of even basic language information available to South Africans.

"Almost all South Africans have a need for language reference and learning materials for the African languages. Yet there is a lack of even basic language information available to South Africans. Mother-tongue speakers wishing to learn English also lack decent learning and reference materials."

Joffe says the dictionary was created as a resource for people interested in Northern Sotho, for mother-tongue speakers wishing to learn English and for the promotion of a truly multilingual culture among all South Africans.

The dictionary is the first Internet dictionary created in South Africa. The dictionary website itself is available in both English and Northern Sotho, making it the first online African-language dictionary.

It contains 25 000 Northern Sotho­English entries and a section containing a linguistics terminology list. An overview of the language, pronunciation, a list of common phrases, days of the week and the numbers 1-10 is also on the website.

http://www.africanlanguages.com