Multilingualism: Training and
capacity building
Dr Mariëtta Alberts
Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB)
Outline of talk:
 Introduction
 Language policy, planning and implications
 Multilingualism
 Terminology development
 Terminology management
 Terminology training
 Multilingual terms for the HLT virtual network
 Conclusion
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
Introduction
 The language policy of a country influences
language development.
 The language policy of a country determines the
number of languages to be developed, e.g.



Eastern Africa: Kiswahili (various national languages)
Namibia: One official language (English), 16 national
languages
South Africa: 11 official languages (with special
emphasis also on the development of South African
Sign Language and Khoe and San languages)
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
Language Policy, Planning and
Implications
 Section 6 of Chapter 1 of the Constitution of
the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act 108
of 1996) declared Sesotho sa Leboa,
Setswana, Sesotho, Siswati, Tshivenda,
Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, IsiNdebele,
IsiXhosa and IsiZulu as official languages.
 “… the state must take practical and positive
measures to elevate the status and advance
the use of these languages”.
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
 The language policy promotes the equitable
use of the official languages.
 It accommodates linguistic diversity.
 It provides a regulatory framework to facilitate
the
effective
constitutional
multilingualism.
implementation
of
the
obligations
concerning
documents “shall be
available in all 11 official languages”.
 Government
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
made
 In cases where this is not feasible, national
government
departments
“shall
publish
documents simultaneously in at least 6 official
languages”:

Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English

One from the Nguni group; one from Sotho group.
 Result to aim for: Enhanced communication
between government and citizens.
 National Treasury concluded several years ago
that it is possible to implement a multilingual
language policy. The expenditure is relatively
small compared to overall departmental budgets.
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
Multilingualism
 The concept “multilingualism” is very complex.
 In Europe a different connotation is attached to the
concept “multilingualism” than in Africa, i.e. Belgium three
languages (Flemish, French, German) but spoken in
distinctly different regions. Belgians may be fluent in all
three languages – personal choice.
 Multilingualism could also just mean that the European
Union caters for more than one language.
 In Africa several different languages are spoken within the
same political and geographical areas.
 It is impossible to be conversant in all these languages.
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
 Governments need to recognize standard
varieties spoken by majority groups to be
declared official languages.
 Languages foreign to Africa such as
European languages are being used as
lingua franca between the indigenous African
communities.
 Some of the official indigenous languages are
totally neglected and left to die a natural
death.
 In South Africa the multilingual dispensation
allows for languages to develop.
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
Terminology as a discipline is
 governed by the language policy of the country;
 at the service of the language policy of the
reigning government, e.g. monolingual, bilingual
or multilingual.
 Compare South African situation:

previous dispensation:
dictionaries and term lists
bilingual

present dispensation: multilingual term lists
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
technical
Terminology development

Terminology is a strategic resource and has an
important role in a country – especially in a
multilingual country.

Effective economic, scientific and technical
communication skills of the citizens of a country
are developed through the use of correct
terminology.

Although terminological and terminographical
activities are not always cost-effective, they are of
invaluable cultural, social, historical, functional,
academic and scientific importance.
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
 The
availability of multilingual polythematic
terminology is an indicator of development.
 Specialized communication has a central axle or
hub in terminology.
 Standardized terminology contributes to quality
of translations, interpreting and subject related
communication
 Streamlined translation and interpreting services
provide competitive advantages.
 BUT: Language services need terminology!!!
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
 The African languages can (like any other
language) create terms for any concept, in
Science, Technology, Economy, etc.
 Polythematic terms are available in the
African languages, but these terms are not
documented and therefore not standardized.
 Unfortunately several term variations exist
for the same concept.
 Cooperation is needed. Language offices
should work together on similar projects –
contact TCS, NLS or PanSALB for
information on ongoing projects.
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
Terminology management
 Trained terminologists should
 Excerpt source language (SL) terms from relevant material
(translated texts; text books; subject-related journals, …)
 Explain concepts in context; define terms
 Supply relevant terminological information
 Supply target language (TL) equivalents
 Compile a draft term list for discussion by working group
consisting of subject specialists and linguists (e.g. NLBs)
 Change database according to feedback
 Request National Language Bodies (PanSALB) to verify
and authenticate terms
 Disseminate terminology to end-users (subject specialists,
language practitioners, laypeople…) through term lists,
CD-ROM, Intranet, Internet, …
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
Client
Multilingual terminology list (SL + TLs)
Head of Terminology Office
System Development & Research
Needs assessment, prioritization
Data management & Publication
Print dictionary SL & TLs
Terminography Section
Excerpt SL terms
Define SL concepts
Natural Sciences
Terminology Section
Supply translation equivalents in TLs
Life Sciences Human Sciences Commercial Sciences
IsiXhosa
Tshivenda
Sesotho
isiZulu
Xitsonga
Sesotho sa Leboa
IsiNdebele
Afrikaans
Setswana
Siswati
Consultation
Subject specialists
- Source Language
Linguists
Language Users
Consultation - Target language(s)
Subject specialists
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
Linguists
Language Users
Terminology management
 Dedicated
software
is
needed
for
terminology
management
 The compilation of a terminology list is a time-consuming
task
 It is a specialized task that needs commitment and
devotion from



subject specialists
trained terminologists
language practitioners, linguists (e.g. NLBs)
 End-result:
 enhancement of subject area
 better / exact communication
 development of languages into functional languages
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
Terminology Training
 There is an urgent need for trained terminologists.
 Terminology training is presented at SA universities
as modules for lexicography or translation studies.
 In-service training is needed to equip language
practitioners (terminologists, translators, editors,
interpreters, …)
 PanSALB provides terminology training to interested
individuals, institutions, government departments, …
 Basic
principles and practices underpinning
terminology and terminography are included in the
training sessions.
 The training assists with capacity building of
employees.
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
P anS A LB skills developm ent term inolog y training program m e
T C S , N LS , D A C
P anS A L B
R e-skilling of
unem ployed
and other
lang uag e
w orkers
M u ltiling ual polythem atic
national term bank
N a tio n a l L e xico gra p h y U n its
M ono ling ual g eneral dictionaries
N a tio n a l L an gu a ge B o die s
V erify and authenticate term s
(need term inograph ic gu idelines)
Individuals, Institutions, Government departments
P rovincial Lang uag e C om m ittees
S u b je ct spe cia lists
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
Multilingual terms for the HLT virtual
network
 SA Government has approved the development of
a human language technology (HLT) virtual
network.
 All lexicography and terminology endeavours will
be part of HLT virtual network - multilingual terms
will be supplied to HLT virtual network.
 Information on governmental issues will be
available to end-users (subject specialists,
students, language practitioners, general public) in
all official languages.
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
T h e fo llo w in g d ia g ra m d e m o n s tra te s th e v a rio u s re la tio n s h ip s :
M E D IA
U n iv e r s ity
A
SABC
C e n tr e fo r
H u m a n L a n g u a g e T e c h n o lo g ie s
NLU
Z
C e n tra l p la n n in g , c o o rd in a tio n &
c o n s u lta tio n
Govt
Dept B
D ig ita l T e x t a n d S p e e c h C o rp o ra
A c q u is itio n , e n h a n c e m e n t, m a n a g e m e n t
U n iv e r s ity
D
N L P S o ftw a re d e v e lo p m e n t
NLU
P
Com pany
A
H L T T ra in in g
Govt
Dept A
U n iv e r s ity
C
Com pany
B
R e s o u rc e s a n d E x p e rtis e to fe e d in to
N a tio n a l
L e x ic o g ra p h ic
U n its
(N L U s )
G o v e rn m e n t
D e p a rtm e n ts
H L T p ro d u c ts fo r
e -g o v e rn a n c e
e -le a rn in g
e -c o m m e rc e
P riv a te s e c to r
d e v e lo p m e n t
IC T (H L T ) jo b
c re a tio n
s o ftw a re d e v .
e -c o m m e rc e
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
A c a d e m ic
re s e a rc h a n d
d e v e lo p m e n t
In conclusion

Terminology development goes hand in hand
with language development.

Terminology
plays
a
multilingualism – but
terminologists!

A language can only become a functional
language in all spheres of life if first
language
speakers
would
use
their
language where and whenever possible –
i.e.
in the working environment.

Functional official
multilingualism!
pivotal
role
in
we need trained
languages
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
will
enhance
THANK YOU!
Dr Mariëtta Alberts
PanSALB
Private Bag X08
Arcadia
0007
Tel:
012 341 9638
Fax:
012 341 5938
E-mail: [email protected]
Dr M Alberts, DPLG Conference on
Multilingualism and Capacity Building
Cape Town, 4 - 6 June 2008
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National Language Body (NLB) Technical Committee (TC