As part of its participation in the UNESCO Year of Indigenous Language Project, the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) has dedicated the month of May to the celebration of Setswana as an official language of South Africa. The main celebration event was held at the North-West University’s Mafikeng Campus on 6 May 2019. SADiLaR joined hands with the South African National Lexicography Units (SANLU) to create a platform for language specialists, academics, researchers, students and the public to be part of an initiative to celebrate language, culture and heritage.
The event opened with a presentation by SADiLaR’s Setswana researcher, Ms Valencia Wagner, who shared information about the Centre as a national research infrastructure as well as the function of SADiLaR that offers various tools and technologies to assist in language research and development. The Secretary-General of the South African Mission to UNESCO, Mr Carlton Mukwevho, then had the opportunity to explain to the audience the role that UNESCO is playing in promoting indigenous languages internationally. He also touched on the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages and offered his support to all of the SADiLaR language celebration events. Mr M.D. Mothoagae then took the audience back in time and gave a historical background of the Setswana language and the development of the language throughout the years. In a very philosophical presentation, Prof Daniel Matjila from the University of South Africa was able to capture the audience’s attention with his presentation on new ways of teaching Setswana Literature.
Mr Motheo Koitsiwe, from the North-West University, then touched on Indigenous Knowledge Systems and the role it plays in teaching and learning as well as the importance for future development of the indigenous languages of South Africa. Dr Baile Mareme, NLU leader: Setswana, in an entertaining presentation addressed the development of dictionaries, focusing on the Setswana language. Mr Terence Ball, SANLU representative, then spoke of the constitutional obligations that all government departments and SANLU have towards our indigenous languages and the importance of the use of dictionaries in these languages to improve literacy levels. Dr Hlengiwe Mashele, Executive Director: Xitsonga NLU, then read out a message of support of the language celebration events from the NLUs as the President of the South African National Lexicography Units.
The event was attended by approximately 80 people, among whom were delegates of the Dikgosi: House of Traditional Council, lecturers, students, academics and the public. The entertainment for the celebration event was traditional dancing done by the Diselammapa Cultural Group. It was a successful day that brought people together to celebrate Setswana and the sacred value it keeps.
SADiLaR is a national infrastructure funded by the Department of Science and Technology as part of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap. The centre is celebrating all of the official languages of South Africa by dedicating each month to a language as part of the United Nations’ International Year of Indigenous Languages. The entire month of May is dedicated to Setswana – the language, traditions and heritage.
The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) dedicated the month of April to the celebration of Afrikaans as an official language of South Africa. The theme of The multiple universes of Afrikaans was used as the thread that sewed all of the month’s events – that included a webinar, theatre workshop, and main celebration – together. This theme created a platform of growth, development, collaboration and inspiration.
The main event was held on 17 April 2019 at the North-West University’s (NWU) Sports Village. Mr Benito Trollip, SADiLaR’s Afrikaans researcher and organiser of the event, opened the floor with an introduction of the celebration and an overview of SADiLaR. The book prize winner of the University of Johannesburg, Charl-Pierre Naudé, with his novel Die ongelooflike onskuld van Dirkie Verwey, was the keynote speaker of the event. The audience was taken through the chronicles of the novel and had the opportunity to be part of the discussion. Charl-Pierre wants to urge readers to explore and spy during their reading of the book and his presentation inspired those who have not yet read the novel to do so. Quentin Williams then addressed the issue of language activism and non-racist practices in an open-minded and inspiring manner, bringing to light the Afrikaans in the Cape Town region known as AfriKaaps. In a very interesting and relevant talk, Karien Brits from the ATKV introduced the Afrikaans trolls to the audience. Living in the digital era, we are exposed to various platforms and we all have the right to make our voices heard. Karien touched on the positive and negative contributions made on these platforms and the effect of these on language development. “We may live and work in our different multiple universes of Afrikaans, but these worlds intersect and Afrikaans organisations must know about these links to become fully-fledged organisations. Let us be responsible in Afrikaans and promote positive discussions between these multiple universes of Afrikaans.” Prof Ernst Kotzé then had the opportunity to share his knowledge of the development of Afrikaans, especially with regard to the influence of Arabic, taking the audience back to the origin of Afrikaans and the variety of dimensions in which the language is used.
After lunch Prof Gerhard van Huyssteen mapped out Afrikaans in the format of a TV series episode in an exuberant and energetic manner. He demonstrated how the language developed throughout the centuries and emphasised the rapid rate that the language moved forward in the 21st century. He also posed the question whether it’s worth the time (left in this episode) to nit-pick on issues like the use of the Afrikaans term “huidiglik” (currently). Ms Allison Geduld, a lecturer from the NWU Law Faculty, in an inspiring presentation, captured the audience’s attention by giving them a scope of her experience of Afrikaans while growing up in Somerset-East and moving to Potchefstroom. She asked what it means to be Afrikaans and whether it brings a certain ethical responsibility.
SADiLaR is a national infrastructure funded by the Department of Science and Technology as part of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap. The centre is celebrating all of the official languages of South Africa by dedicating each month to a language as part of the United Nations’ International Year of Indigenous Languages. The entire month of April is dedicated to Afrikaans – and the multiple universes that speakers thereof inhabit.
In this first Afrikaans webinar from SADiLaR Benito Trollip, SADiLaR's Afrikaans researcher, and Wemar Strydom, literature lecturer from the NWU's Subject Group Afrikaans, join forces. The text that serves as the basis for the discussion is Charl-Pierre Naudé's debut novel, Die ongelooflike onskuld van Dirkie Verwey (2018). The webinar's focus is on unlocking possibilities of the novel: digitally through available methods and software, but also thematic and structural. Digital unlocking possibilities discussed are named entity recognition, morphological labelling, and stylometry and stylistics. Themes explored include the game with the reader – in the form of an unreliable narrator – and intertextuality. Reviews of the novel were also considered, especially in view of the recent awarding of the UJ prize to this novel.
In hierdie eerste Afrikaanse webinaar van SADiLaR span Benito Trollip, SADiLaR se Afrikaansnavorser, en Wemar Strydom, letterkundelektor verbonde aan die NWU se Vakgroep Afrikaans, kragte saam. Die teks wat as basis vir die bespreking dien is Charl-Pierre Naudé se debuutroman, Die ongelooflike onskuld van Dirkie Verwey (2018). Die fokus van die webinaar is op ontsluitingsmoontlikhede van die roman: digitaal deur middel van beskikbare metodes en programmatuur, maar ook tematies-struktureel. Digitale ontsluitingsmoontlikhede wat bespreek word, is benoemde-entiteitsherkenning (algemener bekend as named entity recognition), morfologiese etikettering, en stilometrie en stilistiek. Tematies-struktureel is onder andere gekyk na die spel met die leser – in die vorm van ŉ onbetroubare verteller – en intertekstuele verbande. Daar is ook oorweging geskenk aan resensering, veral in die lig van die onlangse toekenning van die UJ-prys aan hierdie roman.
Volg die skakel om na die webinaar te kyk: WEBINAAR
Werkswinkel: Ewewêrelede in Afrikaanse een-tot-eenteater
Die werkswinkel oor die ewewêrelde in Afrikaanse een-tot-eenteater, gelei deur SADiLaR se Afrikaansnavorser Benito Trollip, het die afgelope naweek praktiese sessies ingesluit van hoe hierdie wêrelde geskep word. Die werkswinkel vorm deel van die maandlange viering van Afrikaans, as deel van SADiLaR se 2019-taalvieringe. Die tema van ewewêrelde word deurgaans hierdie maand beklemtoon. DEURnis, 'n een-tot-eenteatergroep, het hierdie idee van ewewêrelde deur middel van hul ongewone teaterstukke (twee stukke, KOUD en NET, is gedurende die werkswinkel opgevoer) vir werkswinkelgangers ten toon kom stel. ŉ Deelnemer/Gehoorlid is uit die groep gekies terwyl die res gekyk het hoe die toneel tussen die akteur en die gehoorlid afspeel. In ŉ gewone DEURnisstuk is ŉ gehoorlid en die akteur in een vertrek vir ongeveer twintig minute. Sodra ŉ gehoorlid deel is van so ŉ toneel word hy nie toegelaat om terug te praat nie, hy/sy mag slegs ja-neevrae beantwoord, sou die akteur sulke vrae vra. Die gehoorlid besef gou dat hy/sy ŉ karakter in hierdie teaterstuk is, aangesien die akteur met hom/haar praat as ŉ karakter. Vir die deelnemer skep dit ŉ wêreld waarin hy moet uitpluis wie hy in die verhaal is, sonder dat hy ŉ woord kan sê! Ongeveer twintig minute nadat die deelnemer die vertrek moet verlaat, net om in ŉ volgende vertrek met 'n ander akteur in te stap, moet hy probeer sin maak van hierdie situasie waarin hy sopas was. Hierdie teaterstukke is in wese roerend, boeiend, en sielkundig uitdagend weens die afgebakende wêrelde en verskeidenheid karakters (waarvan die gehoorlid ook altyd een is).
Na DEURnis se uitbeelding van die wyse waarop ŉ ewewêreld geskep kan word, het die werkswinkel se fokus verskuif na tegnieser aspekte rondom die skep van hierdie wêrelde. Een van die vervaardigers van die produksiemaatskappy wat DEURnis vervaardig (TheatreRocket), Johan van der Merwe, het verduidelik waar die konsep vandaan kom, hoe dit gegroei het en wat vir hulle voorlê. Die akteur van albei stukke, Ben Pienaar, het daarna gepraat oor hoe om ŉ eerlike vertolking te gee en hoe party gehoorlede so begeester is na die tyd dat hulle hulle rolle begin glo. Gehoorlede raak soms so meegevoer dat hulle begin lag of huil. Henque Heymans, een van DEURnis se skrywers, het hierop uitgebrei en verduidelik dat hy dit as ŉ eienskap van sy tekste inbou. Die eerste deel van die stuk fokus op die skep van ŉ verhouding tussen die akteur en gehoorlid, die tweede deel beklemtoon die verhouding en maak dit vir die gehoorlid geloofwaardiger, en die finale deel lei na ŉ slot (hetsy logies of nie) wat uiteindelik die ewewêreld op ŉ manier vir die gehoorlid sluit soos die toneel eindig. Henque het ook genoem hoe elke element van die ruimte waarin ŉ stuk afspeel, bydra tot die onderdompeling van die gehoorlid in die storie.
Die werkswinkel was kreatief, prakties en uiters vermaaklik. Afrikaanse teater het ŉ skitterende toekoms as hierdie die rigting is waarin dit beweeg.
Gert Coetzer se persoonlike ervaring:
Ek is gebruik in een van die tonele (NET) om aan die werkswinkelgangers te demonstreer hoe ŉ DEURnisteks ŉ ewewêreld skep. Ek het buite die lokaal gestaan en aan die deur geklop, toe skree die akteur ek moet net ŉ oomblik wag en dan inkom. Toe ek in die vertrek inkom, het ek gaan sit met die akteur voor my en die ander werkswinkelgangers links van my. Die akteur het met my begin praat asof hy my ken en hy het óns storie vertel. Die verhaal gaan oor ek wat dood is as gevolg van ŉ akrobaattoertjie wat verkeerd geloop het – die akteur se karakter moes my vang en hy het nie. Heeltemal gefolter deur jare se skuldgevoel, beplan hy om self na sy dood te spring terwyl ŉ tent vol mense kyk wanneer hy weer dieselfde toertjie alleen gaan doen. Soos die akteur die toneel verlaat (waarmee dit ook die einde van die stuk aankondig) en vir alle praktiese redes op pad is om homself dood te maak, kon ek niks doen om hom te keer nie.
Dit was ŉ vreemde ervaring om nie met hom te kon praat nie, en om verantwoordelik te voel vir sy (gesuggereerde) selfmoord. Ek was stomgeslaan deur die fenomenale toneelspel en my eie reaksie tot die onmiddellikheid van die hele ervaring. Omdat ek daaraan gewoond is om teaterstukke as deel van ŉ gehoor te kyk, het hierdie stuk van DEURnis my heeltemal onverhoeds betrap. Dit het my vermoë om agter die gehoor weg te kruip heeltemal uitgewis en ek is gedwing om die stuk as die enigste gehoorlid te ervaar. Die akteur is heeltyd by jou, hy kyk jou in die oë en hy speel toneel net vir jou. Al was ek daarvan bewus dat hierdie ŉ demonstrasie was, moes ek myself steeds gereeld daaraan herinner. Ek sien uit om DEURnis op my eie te beleef, heeltemal onderdompel te word in die stuk se wêreld en oop te wees vir die moontlikhede wat hierdie ervaring my gaan bied. DEURnis skep besonders simpatieke wêrelde wat met respek en op ŉ roerende manier oorgedra word.
Workshop: Multiple universes in Afrikaans one-on-one theatre
The workshop on multiple universes in Afrikaans one-on-one theatre, (Die ewewêrelde in Afrikaanse een-tot-eenteater) led by SADiLaR’s Afrikaans researcher Benito Trollip, offered many practical examples of how multiple worlds can be created. The workshop forms part of the month long celebration of Afrikaans as part of SADiLaR’s 2019 language celebrations. The theme of multiple universes is emphasised throughout the month. DEURnis, a one-on-one theatre group showcased this idea of multiple universes through unconventional theatre pieces (two pieces were performed for workshop goers during the day – KOUD ‘Cold’ and NET ‘Net’). A participant from the crowd were chosen and the rest looked on as it played out. In a normal DEURnis piece, a participant and actor are in one room for around twenty minutes. Within this time the actor puts on a theatre piece and the participant is forbidden to speak except when answering yes/no questions the actor may ask. The participant soon realises that s/he is a character within this theatre piece, since the actor speaks to him/her as a character. For the participant, it creates the effect of being in medias res within a world and character role s/he needs to figure out without speaking. After twenty minutes the participant leaves the room, only to plunge into the next room with an entirely different actor, world and character role to interpret. In effect, the theatre pieces are moving, engaging and psychologically thrilling because of the enclosed worlds and ever-changing characters.
After DEURnis showcased how theatre can create multiple worlds, the workshop’s focus shifted to the technical aspects of world building. One of the producers of the production company behind DEURnis (TheatreRocket), Johan van der Merwe, explained where the concept came from, how it grew and where the future is taking them. The actor, Ben Pienaar, talked about giving an honest performance and how several participants are so emotionally moved that they start believing the fictional world and their character role. Participants are so moved that they start acting as if they are their character which manifests through cathartic moments like crying and laughing. Henque Heymans, a writer for DEURnis, expanded on this notion and explained it as a feature of his scripts. The first phase of the theatre piece focusses on creating a bond between the actor and participant, the second phase emphasises this bond to solidify it and make it more believable for the participant with the third climactic phase leading to an end (logical or not) for the piece and closes the fictional world as the participant leaves the room. Henque explains that every detail in the room is there to immerse the participant into the fictional world.
The workshop was creative, practical and highly entertaining. Afrikaans theatre has a bright future if this is the direction it is taking.
Gert Coetzer’s personal account, as he was part of one of the pieces:
As an example, I was used to demonstrate to the workshop attendees how DEURnis creates alternate worlds. This is my experience of the demonstration: I went outside and knocked on the door. The actor called me in and I sat down with him in front of me and the workshop attendees to my left. The actor started to speak to me as if he knew me and told our story. It’s about losing me (a character in the theatre piece) in a trapeze accident and he feels responsible for it since I slipped through his hands and fell to my death. Racked with guilt he was planning to kill himself while doing his acrobatic show in front of an audience. As the actor walks out, ending the theatre piece, seemingly on his way to kill himself one is left there unable to stop him.
It was a strange experience being unable to talk to him and feeling responsible for his suicide. I was taken aback by the phenomenal acting and my own responses to the immediacy of the whole experience. Because I’m used to theatre sitting in a crowd, this theatre piece by DEURnis caught me off-guard. It evaporated my ability to hide behind other people and forced me into the position of the only subject experiencing the theatre piece. The actor is in your field of vision, looking at you and acting just for you. Even though I was aware that this is a demonstration, I had to remind myself of the fact a few times. I look forward to experiencing this on my own one day, completely immersed in the world and open to new experiences. DEURnis creates extremely compassionate worlds, told beautifully and with respect. This is something with great potential, not only in Afrikaans but other languages as well.
The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR), which forms part of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap of the Department of Science and Technology, celebrated the isiZulu language during the month of February. The celebrations form part of UNESCO’s International Year of Indigenous Languages. SADiLaR is dedicating each month of the year to a South African language and throughout the year we are hosting events at various universities to share knowledge and experience in preserving our indigenous languages.
The isiZulu celebration was held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg Campus) on 1 March 2019. There were 86 attendees, including students and lecturers from the University, members from the Department of Arts and Culture, from eThekwini Municipality and from the South African National Lexicography Units (SANLU).
The event opened with traditional dancing by the Isambane Cultural Group and was followed by an opening and welcoming done by Dr Makhubu-Badenhorst, UKZN African Language Cluster leader. Ms Rooweither Mabuya, SADiLaR’s isiZulu researcher, did an introduction of SADiLaR and spoke about the purpose of the event and the importance of creating a digital footprint for our South African languages and how SADiLaR contributes with various computational tools and resources. Mr Terence Ball, SANLU member, in a very interesting talk, touched on the constitutional obligations that all government departments and SANLU have towards our indigenous languages and the importance of the use of dictionaries in the languages to improve literacy levels. This is particularly important in the Foundation Phase where learners are being prepared for the switch to English as language of teaching and learning from Grade 4 and upwards. The keynote speaker was Prof Nobuhle Hlongwa, who did a presentation on isiZulu’s historical context and how the language has grown and developed throughout the years.
The presentations ended with a question and answer session, and it was clear that the event had opened up new questions in terms of language development and the future of our indigenous languages. There were discussions about the next step in developing isiZulu as a language of research, teaching and learning, and it was very exciting to see that the attendees were so involved and invested in this event.