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This is the first monolingual Setswana dictionary to possess phonemic transcriptions with tonal markings. The inclusions of these pronunciation tools remove confusion in the pronunciation of words as well as help teachers and language lecturers to help their learners in the pronunciation of Setswana words. The dictionary has over 13,400 phonemic transcriptions.
This is the first Setswana dictionary to show frequency bands for the most frequent 4000 headwords. Frequency information has become key to modern dictionaries in that it highlights words which are more than others.
The dictionary also comprises a wide representation of dialectal words from various Setswana dialects such as Sengwato, Sengwaketse, Sekgatla, South African unique terms and others. These are marked out with a specific dialect label.
It happens this Thursday, July 12th, appropriately at the University of Botswana, the highest institution of learning in the land; an institution built on the contributions of the peasants in possession of hope for a better tomorrow for their sons and daughters; and the sons and daughters of their sons and daughters. The launch happens in a fitting place that is the University of Botswana Library Auditorium: an embodiment of the university’s body of research and learning. It is not every year that we welcome a new Setswana dictionary. Our monolingual Setswana dictionary tradition is actually very recent. It began in Kanye in 1976 with the work of a school master and a grammarian. His initials are more well-known than his complete name. It began with the work of MLA:
Morulaganyi Lochinvar Andrew Kgasa; a man born in Kanye on April 16th 1914; a man who died in August 10th 2001. He had toiled for ten years to complete the very first monolingual Setswana dictionary, bringing memories of that overweight English lexicographer, Samuel Johnson, who described a lexicographer as a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original and detailing the signification of words. Kgasa called his Setswana dictionary Thanodi ya Setswana ya dikole. The second Setswana dictionary came 22 years later after the first. It was published in 1998 by Longman Publishers. It was compiled by MLA Kgasa together with Joseph Tsonope, one of the best minds this country has ever produced. The dictionary was an impressive piece of lexicographic work standing at 330 pages. They called it Thanodi ya Setswana. This dictionary has been used extensively in Botswana schools and has inspired other lexicographic works elsewhere. The Medi dictionary therefore comes about 14 years since the last dictionary was compiled and published in Botswana. Language changes fast, particularly as a result of modern technology. Since 1998, many words have been nativised, while others like vuvuzela have made it into the language overnight. The need for a Setswana dictionary therefore cannot be overemphasized. The importance of dictionaries is sometimes ill-understood. For Setswana 1875: Brown’s (1875) compilation of the English-Setswana dictionary was the first dictionary of its nature in sub-Saharan Africa which legitimized the Setswana language when many indigenous languages were considered barbaric and at best exotic. Kgasa’s (1976) monolingual dictionary (small as it was) defined the language as an autonomous entity that could define itself using its own complex lexicon.
It can therefore be observed that: first, dictionaries are more than linguistic entities; they are also political entities, for they indirectly pronounce on what is, not only in terms of a language, but also in terms of the lexicon. Second, dictionaries are cultural repositories. They document a group’s linguistic journeys. They are a knowledge base of a people; a documentation of borrowings and a language’s ingenuity in creating terms to represent thoughts and a world view. Third dictionaries bring clarity to the semantics of words, phrases and cultural idiomaticity. They clarify definitions and lexical relations that exist in a language. Richard Chenevix Trench of the Philological Society, London, defines a dictionary as “an historical monument, the history of a nation contemplated from one point of view; and the wrong ways into which a language has wandered or been disposed to wander, may be nearly as instructive as the right ones in which it has traveled: as much as may be learned, or nearly as much from its failures as from its success, from its follies as from its wisdom.” He also observed that “A dictionary….is an inventory of the language… It is no task of the maker of it to select the good words of a language. If he fancies that it is so, and begins to pick and choose, to leave this and to take that, he will at once go astray. The business which he has undertaken is to collect and arrange all the words, whether good or bad, whether they do or do not commend themselves to his judgment, which, with certain exceptions hereafter to be specified, those writing in the language have employed. He is an historian of it not a critic… There is a constant confusion here in men’s minds. There are many who conceive of a Dictionary as though it had this function, to be a standard of the language; and the pretensions to be this which the French Dictionary of the Academy sets up, may have helped this confusion. It is nothing of the kind.” Trench was right; a dictionary must contain all the words of a language without prejudice.
20 April 2012
Macmillan Setswana and English Illustrated Dictionary Sponsored by Royal Bafokeng
The first major scholarly resource on the Setswana language was launched in Phokeng today at Lebone II, College of the Royal Bafokeng. The product of 15 years of research by Professor Desmond T. Cole and Lally Moncho-Warren, and sponsored by the Royal Bafokeng Nation, the dictionary includes some 25,000 entries in Setswana and English, as well as over 150 illustrations by Naureen Cole.
Professor Cole is Professor Emeritus of African Languages at the University of the Witwatersrand, and a noted expert on Setswana. His passion for flora and fauna in southern Africa is reflected in the many original illustrations of plants in the dictionary, together with their Setswana names.
The Macmillan Setswana and English Illustrated Dictionaryis intended for use by scholars and academics, students of life sciences, physics, and chemistry, as well as indigenous knowledge systems. The dictionary represents Setswana as it is spoken in South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia.
The Royal Bafokeng Nation, in sponsoring the first print run of the dictionary, affirms its commitment to celebrating the vibrant oral and written traditions in the Setswana language, and the importance of mother-tongue learning for children in their first years of schooling.
His Majesty Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi, King of the Royal Bafokeng Nation, praised the dictionary, saying that: “knowledge and preservation of Bafokeng history, knowledge of indigenous plants and animals, the rich verbal traditions that are expressed through the Setswana language, as well as rituals, beliefs and practices that have been passed down through the generations, are essential to document, preserve, and promote, if we are to remain true to our heritage and values.”
Notes to Editors: The Royal Bafokeng Nation: A Forward-Thinking Traditional Community
The Royal Bafokeng Nation is a vibrant African community where tradition meets modernity in Big Five country. Located in the Rustenburg Valley in South Africa’s North West Province, the 150,000 people who reside in the Royal Bafokeng Nationare beneficiaries of some of the most innovative approaches to development. These include holistic education reform, the use of sport to generate social and economic momentum, and converting dividends from a single mineral resource into the world’s leading community-based investment company.
The king of the Royal Bafokeng Nation is Kgosi Leruo T. Molotlegi, 36th in a long line of visionary traditional leaders. Thanks to the pioneering spirit of the king’s ancestors, the Bafokeng community owns 1000 km2 of land situated on part of one of the largest reserves of platinum group metals in the world. PLAN ‘35, the strategic blueprint for the community’s future, aims to uplift an impoverished community, using long-term strategic interventions to create a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable region true to its African heritage and traditions.
Medi Publishing launched a Setswana dictionary titled Tlhalosi ya Medi ya Setswana compiled by University of Botswana Senior Lecturer and linguist, Dr. Thapelo J. Otlogetswe, on the July 12, 2012 at the University of Botswana Library Auditorium.
The guest of honour at the occassion, the UB Chancellor and former president of the Republic of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire applauded Dr. Otlogetswe for a sterling job of putting together such a wonderful compilation of the Setswana language. He observed that Setswana is a cross-border language of southern Africa which unites people in this region of Africa since it is spoken in Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. He informed the attendants that Setswana has been selected by the African Academy of Languages of the African Union as a cross-border language to be used and developed for African integration and cooperation. According to the former statesman, there is a need for Batswana to rediscover the importance of the Setswana language and demonstrate pride in their language and heritage.
Speaking at the same event, the lexicographer, Dr. Otlogetswe explained that the dictionary was compiled for a broad spectrum of users, amongst these, students, journalists, teachers, lecturers, language enthusiasts, publishers and translators. He said he has not called his dictionary a thanodi since the word thanodi is derived from a Setswana verb ranola which means to unravel the signification of a hidden tongue or opaque semantics or to translate, as used in modern Setswana. He therefore argued that the term thanodi is better suited for bilingual or multilingual dictionaries which translate from one language to another. The term tlhalosi on the other hand, he explained, is derived from the Setswana verb tlhalosa which means to explain. Since a monolingual dictionary explains words in a single language, the term tlhalosi was preferred as a term that is used to refer to a monolingual dictionary such as his. That is why the current dictionary is termed tlhalosi and not thanodi since it does not translate words from one language to another but it explains Setswana words using Setswana vocabulary. He also observed that since the dictionary was published by the company called Medi Publishing and that the work put behind the dictionary was to unearth the roots of the Setswana language, it was therefore fitting to name it Tlhalosi ya Medi ya Setswana. Dr. Otlogetswe could not hide his excitement in launching the dictionary, as finally the fruit of his labour will be shared with fellow Batswana.
Dr. Otlogetswe observed that since Tlhalosi ya Medi ya Setswana is compiled for Setswana users, it will instill confidence and pride in both the Setswana language and culture. He further said that the dictionary is rich in the various dialects of the Setswana language such as Sengwato, Sengwaketse, Sekgatla, Sekwena and South African varieties of the Setswana language. The dictionary also comprises borrowed words from other languages such as English, Afrikaans, Sekalaka and Zulu.
Setswana writing and translation may never be the same again, thanks to a new Setswana dictionary that welcomes hundreds of borrowed words into its vocabulary, paving the way for translators and authors to follow the lead and break free from the long held notion of using only pure Setswana.
The effects of the new Setswana dictionary and its influence on the way Setswana is written from now on could be far reaching. The new dictionary, Tlhalosi ya Medi Ya Setswana, is written for use by people of all ages; primary, secondary, tertiary education students, and other users of Setswana will look to it as a resource. It is the third Setswana dictionary since Morulaganyi Kgasa published the first one in 1976, which was followed by the second edition in 1998 by Kgasa and Joseph Tsonope.
Writers of Setswana are traditionally cautious with their word selection, preferring to go for what would be seen as pure and acceptable language of our forefathers, rather than selecting words that are used casually in informal settings. This conformity to tradition is known as, "setswana se se phepa" (pure Setswana). Writers of Setswana are largely conservative, guarding against borrowing words from other cultures, despite the fact that the words which are resisted are used every day.
The new Setswana dictionary recently launched by Medi Publishing, and authored by Thapelo Otlogetswe from the University of Botswana could rub the traditionalists the wrong way with its free spirited 'borrowing' that seems to make more than 50 percent of its content. Many of these words did not make it into previous Setswana dictionaries.
Borrowed words in the new Setswana dictionary include; AIDS, foramo (forum), meloterama (melodrama), memorantamo (memorandam), setatamente (statement), sepeti (speed), phanele (panel), waene (wine), wina (win), washene (washing) and waelese (wireless). The dictionary is also rich with obscenity; the author has included this vocabulary so that the user knows such a word is vulgar and hopefully refrains from using it.
Aspiring writer launches novel in SetswanaThe New Age OnlineThe English translation of the book title is “I am not his keeper”.