College of Human Sciences

Mzansi Taal: A South Afrikan lingo dictionary and encyclopedia

The University of South African has within its core business objectives the responsibility of promoting and recognising of local arts and culture. Aligning itself to this responsibility, the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages in the College of Human Sciences invited social agents from the community to present a project they had started of establishing an authentically South African lingo dictionary and encyclopedia named Mzansi Taal.

Speaking on how amazing South Africa is, founder of the project Tumisang Moumakoe said the country’s uniqueness lies on the diversity of its people and especially their languages. Tumisang compared the mixture of the South African language landscape to the ingredients of the popular local dish potjiekos, and said after mixing all those ingredients in one pot and cooking them, the results thereof are a beautiful and colorful meal or on the case of Mzansi Taal, a beautiful language.

Mzansi Taal was formed to educate users about terms that are not recognised by what we have as traditional dictionaries. Tumisang took the audience through the Mzansi Taal application, demonstrating the step by step navigation of the application for users. He indicated that the Mzansi Taal application is available for downloads on various devices, the demonstration he undertook was of a video clip he recorded from his cellphone. The platform is up and functional, with a lot of opportunity to develop and grow as it is being used and advanced through its interactive ability – a part of the application allows users to leave comments. He said this was a way to highlight to the audience that users are central to the development of their technological engagements and Mzansi Taal is just one classic case.

With a large range of content that Mzansi Taal already has, Tumisang said it has information that the traditional dictionaries does not acknowledge in South Africa and worldwide. Mzansi Taal is shaped and influenced by multidisciplinary engagements, from the clashing of multiple language users to the newly developing language use in the media. He said he realised that it was a crisis because terms that made up the informal language always pop up, showing that languages are ever developing and there will always be a term to capture for them as Mzansi Taal. According to Tumisang, all the terms that are not recognised by traditional dictionaries, have Mzansi Taal to call home.

Tumisang commended the College of Human Sciences for allowing them a professionally academic space to showcase their vision, and for the added support they have received from colleagues at the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages in advancing their project and registering it as community engagement. He added that because of that support, research has become a top priority for their project.

Click here to access to access Mzansi Taal:

*By Katlego Pilane (CHS Communications and Marketing)

Publish date: 2018/12/12