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Xhosa Dictionary Published in South Africa

Xhosa Dictionary Published in South Africa

22 September 2014

Oxford University Press Southern Africa (OUPSA) launched the first bilingual isiXhosa dictionary in almost 30 years on Friday 19 September.

IsiXhosa is spoken by one in five people in South Africa, and the Oxford Bilingual School Dictionary: isiXhosa and English is the first bilingual dictionary to be published since 1985.

A launch event took place on Friday, where 600 copies of the dictionary were donated to the Nelson Mandela Institute for Education and Rural Development: an Eastern Cape-based NGO working with rural communities. 

Ms Xolisa Guzula, Senior Language and Literacy Specialist at the Nelson Mandela Institute, said: “Dictionaries are a scarce resource in our schools. The Oxford Bilingual School Dictionary: isiXhosa and English will help teachers to standardize meanings as they teach vocabulary, and learners as they engage with difficult texts. They’ll be invaluable in making texts even more accessible in both languages.”

Steve Cilliers, Managing Director of OUPSA, said: “Our ultimate goal is to support education and enable all South African children to fulfil their potential. This may seem like a big task for a dictionary to achieve, but our research indicates that widespread use of bilingual dictionaries really could help children acquire the languages they need to learn, and to succeed, whatever their mother tongue may be. Each bilingual dictionary we produce takes at least three years, an extensive team of language and dictionary-making experts, and state-of-the-art technological support. We feel confident that they can make a real difference.”

OUPSA has published bilingual dictionaries for African languages since 2004, with titles including IsiNdebele, Siswati, Xitsonga, and Tshivenda. These complement its varied range of schools and higher education publishing, contributing to raising educational outcomes in the country.

For more information, go to the OUP Southern Africa website.

Pictured: Steve Cilliers, MD of OUPSA, and Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela