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Language & linguistics news from around the world • Updated daily • Relevant stories, selected by humans (not computers)

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Language Group: African

  • Apr 20, 2012
  • 12:17 PM

Tanzanians debate if English is key to success

Anna Patton / Washington Times
Like the majority of Tanzanians, these students were taught in the Kiswahili language throughout seven years of primary school. But moving to secondary school means an abrupt shift to learning all subjects in English, which many educators, students and parents say affects how much learning actually takes place.
  • Apr 19, 2012
  • 08:33 PM

In Swahili, they call it ...

Huang Yuli in Shenzhen / China Daily
When Shen Yuning announced he was planning to compile a Swahili-Chinese dictionary, most of his friends thought he was joking. Since that online post in December, Shen has compiled nearly 5,000 words, working at least 15 hours a day in Kenya and Tanzania with help from some Africans.
  • Apr 17, 2012
  • 09:46 PM

Rwanda: Can Kinyarwanda Be Cured of Foreign-Language Infection?

Eric Bright / AllAfrica
"The Rwandan language and culture are being diluted by the introduction of all the other languages and cultures in the country," remarks Théogene Munyazikwiye, who is in charge of the language department at the Academy. "This may lead to their possible loss which is why we need to look at ways that will enable our language and culture to coexist with the foreign ones without one causing the deterioration of one or the other."
  • Apr 13, 2012
  • 10:40 PM

Under Threat of Extinction

Victor Ugborgu / Newswatch
In Nigeria of the three major languages of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, the most endangered are the last two. Newswatch investigation revealed that, despite the fact that; Igbo and Yoruba are being promoted in schools, colleges and universities, not all parents and guardians from these ethnic groups consciously make enough efforts to teach their children or wards their mother tongues at home.
  • Apr 11, 2012
  • 04:04 PM

Translators fight the fatal effects of the language gap

Mark Tran / The Guardian
One of the group's current projects is to teach sex workers in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, to translate material in English on sexually transmitted diseases into languages such as Swahili, Luo and Kikuyu. The project started last week, with Simon Andriesen, a specialist on medical translation who is on the TWB board.
  • Apr 10, 2012
  • 05:42 PM

At National Visioning Consultation, District 15 Citizens Want Kpelle as National Language

Liberian Daily Observer
...one woman told the Consultation, “When we are in the presence of foreigners in other countries, we can’t talk our secrets because we have to speak the English that everyone else understands. But in Ghana the Ghanaians have Twi and other languages, and we Liberians are lost when Twi is being spoken.”
  • Apr 10, 2012
  • 05:18 PM

Apartheid had mercy on indigeneous languanges

News24
It is disturbing to me at least that most political leaders speak their languages in the UN, but all Africans, bar our Arabian brothers in the North, read their prepared speeches in their colonial masters languages, this is in English, French or Portuguese.
  • Apr 06, 2012
  • 03:37 AM

Kagera residents urged to promote Kiswahili

Meddy Mulisa / Daily News
RESIDENTS in Kagera Region have been encouraged to promote Kiswahili as a lingua franca, when communicating with other people. People in Kagera are fond of using their mother tongues when commucating instead of using the national language.The media, on the other hand, should spearhead the use of correct Kiswahili.
  • Apr 04, 2012
  • 03:37 PM

Lingua franca of S.Africa's mines set to fade slowly

Ed Stoddard / Reuters
A pidgin mix of Zulu, other African languages, English and Afrikaans, Fanagalo is not a recognized language and its small vocabulary of around 2,000 words is largely limited to commands, with plenty of obscenities thrown in, according to experts and those who know the tongue. You will find dictionaries for it online but its name has no agreed spelling. Some use Fanagalo, others Fanakalo.
  • Apr 03, 2012
  • 03:49 PM

Vernacular language teaching contributes to country's development

AngolaPress
Luanda – The Director of Polytechnic High School of Sambizanga locality, Domingos Álvaro, said this Tuesday in Luanda that generalization of the teaching of national vernacular languages will contribute considerably to the growth and development of the country.
  • Mar 30, 2012
  • 11:59 PM

Wikipedia Co-Founder Adding More African Languages

Lekan Oyekanmi / Voice of America
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, 45, says Yoruba is the most popular African language for Wikipedia, with 29,000 pages. The Swahili Wikipedia version is second among African languages with 23,000. Other African languages on Wikipedia include Afrikaans, Hausa, and Zulu. Speaking in Lagos this week, Wales says his website is branching out from English.
  • Mar 23, 2012
  • 05:01 PM

Dead end for African languages?

Michel Lafon / Mail & Guardian Online
In brief, students who do not speak any African language and who want to offer an African language as second additional for matric are mostly prevented from doing so. In turn, this deals a serious blow to the feasibility of Nzimande's proposal concerning African languages and ­graduation requirements.
  • Mar 21, 2012
  • 07:38 PM

Obama Sign Language Surpris : What Other Languages Does He Know? (video)

International Business Times
...it seems Obama had good reason to play down his linguistic abilities in 2008; conservatives would have disparaged his abilities in Spanish, Swahili, and Bahasa Indonesia. But today, the web is abuzz with evidence of one rather unexpected linguistic skill: sign language. On Tuesday, Obama greeted a deaf student at an event in Largo, Maryland. When the 26-year-old signed "I'm proud of you," the president quickly signed back a "Thank you."
  • Mar 21, 2012
  • 10:57 AM

Now playing: Bard in 37 languages

Sarju Kaul / The Asian Age
For the first time, it is hosting 37 international companies, including two from India, to present all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in 37 different languages. Theatre companies from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas will present plays in 37 different languages during the six-week drama festival, Globe to Globe, which is part of the World Shakespeare Festival due to run till November.
  • Mar 20, 2012
  • 01:50 PM

On-line Kiswahili teaching pays well

The Citizen Daily
He was not surprised when students from different parts of the world registered in droves to benefit from his High Intensive Language Drilling (HILD) system meant to teach the language online. The system enables him to teach from the comfort of his office using Skype.
  • Mar 19, 2012
  • 10:06 AM

Preserve Kinyarwanda Language, Says Academic

Bonny Mukombozi / AllAfrica.com
Rwandans have been urged to preserve the sovereignty and standards of Kinyarwanda language by demonstrating accuracy of its literature, grammar, and the richness embedded in it. The executive secretary for the newly established Rwanda academy of language and culture, Dr James Vuningoma, said this, during celebrations to mark the International Mother Language Day, held in Rubavu.
  • Mar 16, 2012
  • 07:39 PM

Piece of San culture has died along with Una Rooi

Independent Online
Rooi made headlines in 1998 when researchers were told there was a group of people living in the Kalahari who spoke the N/uu language. Petrus Vaalbooi, a community leader and activist trying to claim back land they had lost, led researchers Nigel Crawhall, Anthony Traill and Hugh Brody to Rooi. Rooi and four others were the only people left who still spoke the N/uu language.
  • Mar 16, 2012
  • 12:44 PM

Hold Your Tongue: Yoruba in the Diaspora

Toluwanimi Malomo / Think Africa Press
In their paper “Is Yoruba an Endangered Language?” Felix Fabunmi and Akeem Salawu note a conspicuous post-colonial preference for the use of English amongst the Yoruba elite. They describe the “divided personalities” of the elite who fight to “eschew their nativity” as a contributing factor in the demise of the Yoruba language, particularly in Nigeria itself.
  • Mar 15, 2012
  • 01:17 AM

No mother tongue here

Mawande Jack / The New Age Online
An increase number of township and rural schools in the Eastern Cape are discarding instruction in the pupil’s home language, especially Xhosa, as part of a plan to attract more pupils to the schools. This despite state language policies according home languages equal status.
  • Mar 13, 2012
  • 07:34 PM

Professor helps document African language for the first time

Monta Reinfelde / College Heights Herald
Over two decades ago, Kpelle, the language secondary in Liberia behind English, had never been recorded. Thanks to Dr. Elizabeth Winkler, WKU associate professor of linguistics, Liberia now has the first written source of their language in its history — the Kpelle Dictionary.
  • Mar 13, 2012
  • 07:23 PM

Sheng Does Enrich English Language

Ashford Kimani / The Star
Sheng, according to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary, is a simple form of language that includes words from English, Kiswahili and other African languages, used especially between young people in cities. When the minister for education, Prof. Sam Ongeri, was releasing the results for both KCPE and KCSE for the year 2011 he lamented the poor performance in the languages and attributed this to Sheng.
  • Mar 11, 2012
  • 05:29 PM

Senegal: bad news for the French language

Bram Posthumus / Radio Netherlands
Admittedly, my Wolof is rudimentary and does need improvement. But gone are the days when a flawlessly exercised greeting in high school French would do the trick for you in Dakar.
  • Mar 07, 2012
  • 11:09 AM

Sheng ‘will be one of the most dominant languages in 2050’

Chege Muigai / Daily Nation
But, in 2012, Sheng looks far from going the way of Latin, the ancient language that you will only hear in seminaries and read in school mottos. If anything, Sheng has found a new mojo. Marketing firms, politicians and activists have turned to the language to connect with the rising segment of urbanised youth because “it is stylish”.
  • Feb 29, 2012
  • 11:32 AM

Angola: Education Minister Recommends Cokwe Language Dictionary

AllAfrica.com
Luena — The Angolan minister of Education, Mpinda Simão, Friday in Luena, eastern Moxico province, recommended local schools, students and teachers to use the Cokwe-Portuguese and Portuguese-Cokwe dictionaries as part of the effort to integrate vernacular languages in the syllabuses and stimulate the books author.
  • Feb 22, 2012
  • 09:28 AM

Lost in translation

S'Thembiso Msomi / Times LIVE
Too often, politicians and other public figures wrongly cry: "I was misquoted" or "quoted out of context" when their utterances spark public outrage. The experience of the past few years, however, has taught me not to dismiss these as obfuscations without first getting an independent account of what the person actually said - especially if such a person had spoken in a language other than English.
  • Feb 20, 2012
  • 12:42 PM

Xhosa, Zulu being axed at state schools

Prega Govender / Times LIVE
Most former Model C primary schools in which English is the medium of instruction are scrapping African languages, thus forcing pupils to study Afrikaans as their official second language. It comes as this year's batch of grades 1 to 3 will be taught a new curriculum that requires them to do only one extra language.
  • Feb 16, 2012
  • 12:43 PM

Row erupts over language policy

Deon de Lange / Independent Online
Much criticism was focused on mother-tongue education, which several speakers said would do more than many other interventions to improve the quality of education. Committee chairwoman Thandile Sunduza (ANC) said her dissertation would have been accepted at university if she had been able to write it in her mother tongue, Xhosa.
  • Feb 15, 2012
  • 02:42 PM

First Fanti Dictionary launched in Accra

GhanaWeb
Accra, Jan. 15, GNA – The First ever Fanti Words and Idioms Dictionary has been launched in Accra to promote the speaking of local languages for national development.
  • Jan 10, 2012
  • 01:34 PM

Isles varsity eyes being global Kiswahili centre of excellence

IPPmedia
State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) vice-chancellor Prof Idris Ahmada Rai has said that the main purpose of establishment the university was to make it the number-one centre for the Swahili language in the world. He made the rematks at the signing of a cooperation agreement between SUZA and Indiana University of the US in Zanzibar on Wednesday.
  • Dec 30, 2011
  • 06:55 PM

'Sheng' dims 2011 KCPE performance in main languages

Business Daily Africa
The 2011 results released this week indicate the overall candidate’s performance in two of the main languages used in the country and in the East Africa region dropped in 2011 compared to 2010, with the Minister of Education, Sam Ongeri blaming it on increased usage of the slang based language throughout the country.

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