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Meet your community

Meet your community: our Language Manager and Language Champions

The Language Manager runs the daily activities on the Living  Dictionary, and the Language Champions are our external advisors.

We asked them all what they think of the Oxford Global Languages  initiative, and what role do they see the Living Dictionary having in the  current language context.

Here is what they have to say:




Prof. Thapelo Otlogetswe, Language Manager

Oxford Language Initiative is the most definitive lexicographic project in the development and promotion of the Setswana language since the publication of the first English-Setswana bilingual dictionary in 1875 by John Brown. For the first time, it will make available online, the rich Setswana-English lexical resources of the Oxford University Press that will benefit journalists, teachers and students, translators and writers in Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The cross border nature of the Setswana language, demands a digital cross-border and multi-national approach to its documentation which is provided for by the Oxford Language Initiative. The project is therefore a source of pride for the Setswana language. The Living Dictionary will make it possible for Batswana to collaborate in the writing of the type of dictionary that will serve them best. Through its compilation, they will be able to document the rich cultural heritage of the Batswana for the benefit of coming generations as well as to serve the immediate day to day language needs of the speakers. They will therefore decide which words, idioms, proverbs and expressions to enter in the dictionary and how best to craft the definitions of their language. The Oxford Language Initiative therefore presents the best platform through which language matters could be explored by Setswana speakers.

Andy Chebanne, Dean, Faculty of Humanities, University of Botswana, Language Champion
The Oxford Global languages initiative is a welcome development for Setswana which hitherto has few online resources. The created internet resources for Setswana will help regenerate it for modern language use domains. It definitely will establish its online dictionary a resource for and this will help build speakers’ confidence in writing Setswana. Users will also have better opportunities to interact with their language online and be able to make inputs on what they deem important for their language. When users of Setswana discover that the online resources contribute to their language writing skills, they will also accept to use it in more technical domains and thus contribute to its revitalisation. The initiative will make Setswana a portable and readily available language in cell phones and laptops. The Living Dictionary for Setswana will certainly redefine the use of reference materials such as dictionary for African languages in general and for Setswana in particular as it is a language that is also widely used in school in literary texts and in linguistic research at higher academic levels. For Setswana, internet availability will also help break down cross border hitches of its development as users will access it in the internet and worry less about Botswana and of South Africa Setswana. Setswana will therefore become a true cross border language with inter-country utility and appreciation.


Lorato Legotlo, Language Champion
The Oxford Global Languages (OGL) initiative is one way of preserving languages, in this case, Setswana.  Recent debates on social platforms have included the manner in which African languages can be preserved for future generations and the initiative certainly provides for that opportunity.

OGL will have a role in providing online access to Setswana globally meaning that it will be accessible not only to Setswana speakers in the diaspora, but the international community as well.

Setswana also includes cultural practices that can only be expressed in the language.  OGL will therefore not only create an opportunity for continued use of the language, but also its culture.

Ogodiseng Mokakale, Language Champion
This initiative... is an opportunity for minority languages such as Setswana to develop and mature [digitally]...by having a living dictionary such as this, our language can grow and develop at the same pace as others."

Resego Morakanyane, Language Champion
I have a great interest in seeing that the Setswana Language is preserved. I consider myself someone who has been very fortunate in getting to know and understand the language and its different dialects as spoken in different parts of Botswana and the Southern Africa region. I have had the opportunity to move around and live with different Batswana groups for a significant duration, through out my life, because of the circumstances I was living in. During all these times I managed to appreciate the different dialects of the language, from how the same word can mean different things to how different words can mean the same thing, to pronunciation of the words. Batswana natives can agree with me that different regions speak the language differently.

The opinions and other information contained in OxfordWords blog posts and comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Oxford University Press.

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