Mind your vocabulary!

2017-02-12 06:01

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Mahikeng - English dictionaries such as Oxford add new words every year from different languages of the world, including ones from South Africa.

When that happens, countries with more than one official language often find themselves rushing to make sense of the new words and to translate them into their indigenous languages. Thanks to the SA National Lexicography Units, that part is well taken care of.

Baile Mareme, who is part of the Setswana National Lexicography Unit based at the Mafikeng Campus of North West University (NWU), told City Press this week that when their unit receives new words, they convene a subcommittee meeting to discuss them.

The words are then moved to the Pan SA Language Board (PanSALB), where they are authenticated. “Without the board meeting, there is no conclusion and the finalisation of such terms,” Mareme said.

“All these meetings need funding. With no funding [from PanSALB], it simply means that our languages will become static,” he said.

Here are some of the more frequently used words in South African indigenous languages:


- State capture: Kgapopuso/Bogapapuso/Khuparelopuso

- Social media: Tlhaeletsanoloago/Bobegi jwa loago

- Texting: Kwalakwalo/Kwalomolaetsa

- Tenderpreneur: Mmadithendara/Rradithendara

- Papsak: Kgetsepapetla

- Whoonga: Whoonga

- Photobomb: Moitshetlelo

- Crowdfunding: Letlolekgobokwe/Letlolekgobokgobo

- Post-truth: Nnete-morago

- Podcast: Potkaste

- Fundi: (from the isiNdebele umfundi): Fundi

- Shopaholic: Morekafela/Morekaphetelela


- State capture: Ukubhozonyelwa kombuso

- Social media: Izinkundla zokuxhumana

- Texting: Ukuthumela umqhafazo

- Tenderpreneur: Usomathenda

- Papsak: Ukuvaleka/Ukungabi namali

- Whoonga: Iwunga

Sesotho sa Leboa

- State capture: Thopo ya Mmušo

- Social media: Kgokaganyo ka midiya

- Texting: Thomelo ya melaetša ka sele

- Tenderpreneur: Mogweba ka dithendara

- Papsak: Papsaka

- Whoonga: Wunka


- State capture: Ukubanjwa kukarhulumente ngobhongwana/Ukugqityelwa kukarhulumente

- Social media: Ikhasi lonxibelelwano/Amakhasi onxibelelwano

- Texting: Ukuthunyelwa komyalezo/Ukuthumela umqhafazo

- Tenderpreneur: Ushishino ngoniko-maxabiso/Usomashishini woniko-maxabiso

- Papsak: Ipapsaki

- Whoonga: Ihunga/Uhlobo lwesiyobisi


- State capture: Kubanjwa kwembuso ngabhongwane

- Social media: Tinkhundla tekuchumana

- Texting: Kutfumela ngemchafato/Kubhalelana

- Tenderpreneur: Omathenda

- Papsak: Umgcishi/Ipapsak

- Whoonga: Ibulalangcondvo/Iwunga

* These translations were made possible by the following members of the SA National Lexicography Units: Godfrey Baile Mareme and Eileen Pooe for Setswana at NWU, Mpume Mbatha at the isiZulu National Lexicography Unit in Durban, Victor Mojela for Sesotho sa Leboa at the University of Limpopo, Boyane Malinga for siSwati and Zola Wababa for isiXhosa from the University of Fort Hare. Visit sansalb.org

Read more on:    mahikeng

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