I was recently invited to join a webinar hosted by the Indigenous Language Action Forum, ILAF, (https://ilaf.co.za/) in short. It is an organisation that promotes indigenous languages, with the aim to ensure the active use of these languages in important sectors such as education, criminal justice, healthcare etc. The webinar was titled “Using the indigenous languages at universities: Why do it and can it work?”. It was a first of its kind for the organisation and it brought different people in advocating for the use of indigenous languages in higher education in one setting. What touched me about this organisation and the webinar itself was the concept of having a positive narrative for the use of indigenous languages. The idea was to have a conversation about languages without putting others down.
SADiLaR’s Tshivenda researcher, Mr Phathutshedzo Maxwell Ramukhadi, specialises in literature and making use of digital tools. He finds the field of literature particularly interesting and continued by saying:
“I want to familiarise myself with the field of Human Language Technology”
In the current Covid-19 situation and national lockdown Mr Ramukhadi is working on two articles named:
How to develop a Tshivenda digital literary corpus
The portrayal of children Character in Tshivenda play
Analysis of Tshivenda lemmatization tool
He says that he is planning to finish the two articles that he is currently working on, within the next few months, to submit them for review.
“I also want to start working on my PHD proposal”.
Mr Ramukhadi argues that digital humanities makes a greater impact in the African context because African languages has been under development for so long. In conclusion he says:
“Digital Humanities will contribute a lot to make sure that our languages are being treated and have the same standard as the European languages”.