Member of the Month: Daniel Motshegwe

Name: Daniel Motshegwe

What attracted you to be part of the Setswana Living Dictionary?

The Setswana Living Dictionary was God sent! After a long and losing battle to read and understand a book on philosophy, having read a seven hundred page book four times without understanding, I thought I should first translate it into my mother tongue. I had two challenges: the big words used by philosophers and the fact that my Setswana vocabulary is not extensive. This was before I got to know about the Setswana living Dictionary. It was not even available on internet. What I came across on internet relating to Setswana was not helpful at all. But I kept on trying on my own. Thanks God! Professor Thapelo Otlogetswe was on Radio, one good morning and I got to know about the Dictionary - and it has since become an inalienable part of my project. 

How do you think Setswana speakers can benefit from it?

Setswana speakers can benefit enormously, particularly writers, aspiring writers, interpreters and translators. The onus is on them to grow the dictionary so that they benefit even more. I also believe we will start to have more people writing in Setswana.

Do you have a favourite Setswana word of saying?

I have always been fascinated by the way we greet in Setswana: ‘dumelang’, maybe somebody will explain to me one day, how it came about or what it means. But generally speaking, I love speaking this beautiful, humour-rich language, particularly with people who love it as well, like my friend Bonolo Molatlhegi who humoredly likes to say: “ga o motho wa sepe”, “o motho fela”, “o mo go efe kgang jaanong”,” “o ratha sekgwa” and my sister Matshidiso Molefe who likes to say:  “motho ga a tshwanna go akga maoto mo botshelong.

What other features would you like to see on the Living Dictionary site?

You could have a feature wherein the focus would be to motivate creativity towards growing the language. As an illustration, I will use the tendency among civil servants, especially teachers (of course teachers deserve respect), to address unmarried female teachers as Mma Molefe – even though the lady may not be married. I believe we need to be creative and grow our language. My humble suggestion would be to address Sinah Motshegwe, who is married as Mma Motshegwe Sinah – because she is increasing the ‘members’ of the surname. We could then address Tebogo Molefe who is not married as Mme Tebogo Molefe because she is waiting to be married and grow the surname of her husband. Maybe this is already in use, I am not sure - I am only using this as an illustration. Members could come up with some such suggestions and illustrations.

You could have an arrangement where members send Setswana or English words which they are not able to translate themselves, to be assisted by other members. For instance there are words I hear people using, which I am not able to translate, like ‘go ikgogona’, ‘go imatswa’ ’ go itlhophara’, ‘go iphetlha’ ‘go hephela (I think this is Sengwato)’ ‘go fephela. Some form of an arrangement for assistance could be put in place.

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