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Unisa experts develop multilingual robotics terminologies

Inspired towards Science Engineering and Technology (I-SET), an engaged scholarship flagship project of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) at Unisa, aims to inspire awareness and interest in the fields of science, engineering and technology using robotics and indigenous languages. The I-SET community includes learners, students, educators, community leaders and academics. The focus of the I-SET project is robotics and the project identified a need for indigenous robotics education for South Africa.

Dr Napjadi Letsoalo

The I-SET team collaborated with Unisa linguistic experts Dr Napjadi Letsoalo from the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages at Unisa and Delvah Mathevula from the Department of African Languages: Xitsonga.  Together this dynamic team developed multilingual robotics terminologies, glossaries and open education resources (OERs).  All agree that this a work-in-progress to address a greater need.

This great initiative promotes engagement with learners in the basics of robotics in their home languages.  It is as easy as selecting a language you wish to explore and enjoying the benefits of learning robotics in your preferred language. It is also a great way to learn a new language.

The dictionary of terms has been compiled by I-SET over many years of engagement.  The translation journey started in 2020 and the team has now published Sepedi, Xitsonga and Afrikaans terminologies as OERs. They have successfully submitted a paper on their research that  established that the development of robotics terms of indigenous languages is necessary for the advancement of robotics education in South Africa.

Delvah Mathevula

In September 2020, Delvah Mathevula was interviewed on Munghana Lonene FM. He discussed the impact of the fast-growing technology on the development of Xitsonga. He also indicated that as language practitioners they are working around the clock to ensure that their languages are not left behind.  Earlier in that same month, Dr Najadi Letsoalo was interviewed on Thobela FM regarding the use of language to preserve culture and heritage. The interview revolved around the I-SET Robotics project and the initiative for robotics to be taught in Sepedi.  Dr Patricia Gouws was interviewed by the Sunday Times on engaging with communities regarding robotics in Covid times.

Please visit and share the link to the OERs for Sepedi, Xitsonga and Afrikaans terminologies: 

The team is excited about this indigenous robotics journey.  There is still a long way to go to include all eleven languages and sign language.

* By Andzani Sibiya, I-SET Science Communication Administrator

Publish date: 2022/01/28