Wednesday, October 14, 2009

TshwaneDJe / Oxford University Press Dictionary Wins Award!

The Oxford University Press Northern Sotho - English Dictionary, created in partnership with TshwaneDJe and created with TLex, has won the SATI (South African Translators' Institute) Prize for Outstanding Translation Dictionaries:

The editorial team for the Oxford Bilingual School Dictionary: Northern Sotho and English (Editor-in-Chief: Gilles-Maurice de Schryver; Chief compiler: Mamokgabo Mogodi; Chief Linguist: Elsabé Taljard; Publisher: Megan Hall; OUP SA editor: Phillip Louw)

From the Oxford University Press News Release:

Coinciding with International Translation Day on 30 September, Oxford University Press Southern Africa scooped the South African Translators’ Institute award for Outstanding Translation: Dictionaries for the Oxford Bilingual School Dictionary: Northern Sotho – English / English – Northern Sotho, at an awards ceremony held at the University of Johannesburg on 2 October 2009.

This dictionary is the first for Northern Sotho to focus on the needs of school learners in grades 4 to 9, whether they are learning English or Northern Sotho. It's also the first to include key terms from the school curriculum (with bilingual definitions), a guide to pronunciation, sample emails and letters, and help with writing SMSs.

The dictionary is revolutionary in lexicographic terms too: it was the first for an African language to be fully developed from a corpus, using the most modern, internationally accepted dictionary-development processes.

More than two and a half years in the making, it was created by a team of experts including mother-tongue speakers of English and Northern Sotho, as well as experts in dictionary-making. The team was led by Dr Gilles-Maurice de Schryver, Extraordinary Professor in the Xhosa Department at the University of the Western Cape and an Assistant Professor of African Languages and Cultures at the University of Ghent in Belgium. The team was supported by language engineers, and used TshwaneLex, home-grown, state-of-the-art dictionary compilation software developed by David Joffe of TshwaneDJe.

Mamokgabo Mogodi, the main compiler for Northern Sotho, received the prize on behalf of the development team. She explains how she worked: "For each word in the dictionary, I first studied hundreds of lines of text from the corpus. From this I saw how a word was really used and I could work out the different meanings it could have. For each meaning I then selected an authentic example sentence. For the first time I have seen how my own language, Northern Sotho, is actually used."

"We are very excited to have published a dictionary that is so accessible and easy to use," says Managing Director of Oxford University Press Southern Africa, Lieze Kotze, "and to have supported learners of English and Northern Sotho in this way."

The awards strive to promote multilingualism and in particular the use and development of indigenous languages, and promote cross-cultural understanding – a vision shared by Oxford in the development of an ever-expanding range of bilingual dictionaries.

"We're delighted to receive this award recognising both the quality of the work that went into the dictionary and the support it can offer translators, and look forward to publishing more dictionaries in this vital range next year," says Publishing Manager for Dictionaries, Megan Hall.

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