Preservation of languages at NWU under the spotlight
As part of the North-West University’s (NWU’s) Language Awareness Week, library staff at the campus in Mahikeng recently attended a presentation on a study titled "The linguistic-cultural impact of Boloka: are all NWU official languages equal?"Boloka is the NWU institutional repository that hosts electronic theses, dissertations, journals, and other published and unpublished documents written by NWU staff.
“The aim of the study was to find out if all the NWU official languages are represented in Boloka, and to what extent,” says Siviwe Bangani, manager for information services at the campus library.
Among the findings, he says, was that all three official languages (Setswana, Afrikaans, and English) are represented on Boloka, but only seven out of the 21 389 documents are in Setswana, followed by 4 705 in Afrikaans, and 16 521 in English.
Sesotho, which enjoys working language status at the NWU’s campus in Vanderbijlpark, was not represented at all. In the case of Setswana, only three documents on Boloka were published after 1994.
The presentation concluded with recommendations, including that:
- The Setswana subject group should consider using Boloka as a publishing platform for research articles - especially at honours level - written in Setswana.
- University libraries should work with the National Library of South Africa to start a national repository of African languages.
- Librarians should visit communities to collect documents written in Setswana and preserve it on Boloka.
- The South African government should consider providing incentives to researchers who publish in African languages.