Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages

Prof MN Ngcobo

College of Human Sciences
School of Arts
Department: Linguistics and Modern Languages
Tel: 012 429 6310
Fax: 086 544 7173


  • DA Linguistics, African Studies and Humanistic Studies (State University of New York, 2003)

Fields of academic interests

  • Language Planning and Policy
  • Multilingual Education
  • Corpus Linguistics

Field of Specialisation

  • Sociolinguistics
  • Language Development
  • Critical, Cultural and Post-Modern Theories


  • 2002 – A Survey of Zulu Literature from 1970-1990. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press.
  • 2003 – Learn and Speak Zulu: A Practical Guide for Second Language Learners. Chicago: International Academic Publishers.

Journal articles

  • 2007 – Language planning, policy and implementation in South Africa. Glossa: an ambilingual interdisciplinary journal, 2(2), 156-169. (Peer-reviewed)
  • 2008 – "On account of a basket": a socio-historical and ethnographic perspective on the development of multilingualism in South Africa. Indilinga African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems, 7(1), 7-22.
  • 2008 – A cognitive and corpus-linguistic re-analysis of the acquisition of the Zulu noun class system. Joint publication in Language Matters Studies in the Languages of Africa, 39(2), 316-331.
  • 2009 – A strategic promotion of language use in multilingual South Africa: information and communication. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, 27(1), 113-120.
  • 2009 – The politics of compromise and language planning: the case of South Africa. Language Matters Studies in the Languages of Africa, 40(2), 91-100. (Accredited)
  • 2010 – Zulu noun classes revisited: a spoken corpus-based approach. South African Journal of African languages, 30(1), 11-21.
  • 2010 – Using spoken corpora in the intellectualization of the indigenous languages. Alternation, 17(1): 183-206.
  • 2012 – The constitutional dynamism of a multilingual language policy: A case of South Africa. South African Journal of African Languages, 32(2), 181-187.
  • 2013 Loan words classification in isiZulu: The need for a sociolinguistic approach. Language Matters, 44(1), 21-38.
  • 2010 – Work on spoken (multimodal) corpora in South Africa. Proceedings of the Seventh conference on International Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC'10), 885-889.

Paper presentations

  • 1997 – African Languages Association of Southern Africa. Assisting.
  • 2000 – National Model Organization of African Unity Conference, Washington, D.C., March 3rd - 6th. Student Delegate for Ethiopia.      Presentation: “Resolution on Refugee problem was passed”.
  • 2001 – National Model Organization of African Unity Conference, Washington, D.C., March 7th – 10th. Student Delegate of Kenya. Presentation: “Resolution on Economic integration was passed”.
  • 2003 – Capital District Council of Churches, “Peace and Justice in South Africa” (New York, Albany).
  • 2006 – Eastern Cape Youth Commission (Bisho). Presentation: “The state of young graduates in the Amathole District Municipality”.
  • 2006 – Dapartment Colloquia – presented paper: “Status and Corpus language planning: addressing language policy implementation problems in South Africa” (UNISA: Department of Linguistics).
  • 2006 – Language conference entitles Language policy and implementation in Higher Education Institutions (UNISA)
  • 2007 – LSSA/SAALA/SAALT Joint Conference (University of Potchefstroom) – a paper was presented entitled: “Strategies to promote language use in multilingual South Africa”.
  • 2007 – SABC1 Chatroom – a discussion on: “The extinction of minority languages in South Africa”.
  • 2008 – ALASFO Conference (University of KwaZulu-Natal) – a joint paper presentation entitled: Progress in developing spoken language corpora of indigenous languages in South Africa.
  • 2009 – The Status of Spoken Language Corpora workshop – UNISA – papers presented: 1. The state of Zulu spoken language corpus, and 2. A spoken corpus-based approach in the re-analysis of Zulu noun.
  • 2010 – The Status of Spoken Language Corpora Workshop – UNISA – presentation on: A sociolinguistics of the Zulu loan words classification.
  • 2010 – SABC News International – a discussion on: “The role of traditional leaders in the democratic context”.
  • 2010 – International Humanities Conference – New Directions in the Humanities – University of California, LA. A paper was presented entitled: “The constitutional dynamism of a multilingual language policy”.
  • 2011 – LSSA, SAALA, SAALT and EPIP Joint Conference (Rhodes University). Two papers were presented entitled: 1. “Multilingualism in South Africa” and 2. “Language planning in an open distance learning (ODL) environment: aspirations, constraints and functional multilingualism”.
  • 2011 – ALASA Biennial International Conference. A paper was presented entitled: “Loan words classification in isiZulu: the need for sociolinguistic approach”.
  • 2012 – The Importance of Bottom-up initiatives and Practices in language development. SATI Triennial Conference, University of Johannesburg, 29 September 2012.
  • 2014 – 1st UNISA Language Indaba. A paper was presented entitled: “An investigation to students’ language attitudes and preferences at Unisa”. 

Professional positions, fellowships & awards

  • 1994 – University of Natal Chancellor’s Fund Scholarship.
  • 1997 – CSD Bursary (University of Natal).
  • 1998 – CSD Bursary (University of Natal).
  • 1999-2002 – Assistantship, State University of New York (Albany).
  • 2000 – State University of New York Research Foundation.
  • 2002 – State University of New York Graduate Students Organization
    Research Fund
  • 2007-2008 – NRF Post-Doc Research Fellowship.
  • 2010 – UNISA Principal’s Award: Excellence in Research.
  • 2014 – KZN Cogta (Leadership and good governance scholarship)


  • Students’ Language Attitudes Strategic Project


Book reviews:

  • 2007 – A Proposal for the Re-Founding of Nigeria: What to do after the Total Collapse of an African State Written by ‘Emeka O.C. Nwagwu (Edwin Mellen Press, USA).
  • 2007 – Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Novels & Biblical Reconfiguration by John A. Anonby (Edwin Mellen Press, USA).
  • 2008 – Le Ndlela Inameva, a Zulu novel by Matthew Mngadi (Unisa Press).
  • 2010 – Imbali, a Zulu poetry book by Mfan’ufikile Aubrey Motau (Unisa Press).
  • 2010 – Ngiwafung’amambatha, a Zulu radio play by Sikhumbuzo Winston Xaba (Unisa Press).
  • 2010 – Ukuhlelwa Kolimi by Nobuhle Ndimande-Hlongwa.
  • 2011 – Umthombo Wethemba by Mfanufikile Motau.

Dissertations and thesis:

  • 1997 – Research on Zulu Literature from 1970 to 1990. University of Natal: Durban. Unpublished BA Hons mini-dissertation.
  • 1999 – The Theme of Education as a Reflection of Socio-cultural Change in Zulu Literature. University of Natal: Durban. Unpublished MA dissertation.
  • 2003 – Language Planning and the Politics of Compromise: A Critical Analysis of the South African Language Policy. Published by Umich dissertations.

Government commissioned research:

  • 2006 – Graduate Research Development Programme (Eastern Cape Youth Commission).
  • 2007 – Advisory Report on the Provision of Government Information and Services for Socio-Economic Development in Local South African Languages of Choice Using ICT Platforms (Presidential National Commission on Information Society and Development).