Language Planning and Development Office (ULPDO)

The University Language Planning and Development Office (ULPDO) is charged with the responsibility of implementing all projects and activities aimed at intellectualising isiZulu, guided and underpinned by the University Language Policy and Plan (adopted in 2006 and revised in 2014). All these projects are monitored and partly funded by the University Language Board (ULB).

...Figure 15. ULPDO Projects

Implementation of the Language Policy and Plan

In the period under review, UKZN implemented the Language Policy and Plan through its core and targeted language programmes, including teaching and learning programmes; terminology development; social cohesion projects; research and human language technologies (HLTs) including corpus building; language services; term bank and mobile application; literature development and transforming institutional policies so as to ensure the intellectualisation of isiZulu. The figure above depicts the entire language programme of isiZulu intellectualisation at the ULPDO.

DR9 Rule Implementation

In the period under review, the ULPDO successfully implemented the requirements of the DR9 Rule. For the April 2020 graduation, 158 doctoral abstracts were submitted for translation into isiZulu. A total of 137 doctoral abstracts were translated, edited and deployed – only 13 were not translated. The Abstract Translation Management System was developed and successfully deployed to enable the receipt, processing and electronic storage of all doctoral abstracts. The UKZN library and ULPDO have engaged in discussions on how this system could be hosted on the library server for further development and ease of implementation and access.

Terminology Development

One of the ULPDO’s key programmes – terminology development, had a severe setback during the period under review. By its nature, terminology is a very practical programme that requires the participants’ physical presence. The national lockdown and subsequent restrictions imposed by the national state of disaster had serious negative impacts on the operation of this project, which could not be fully implemented. The easing of restrictions has brought some hope that this part of the Office’s work will start soon. The University is also crafting alternative ways of implementing this programme.

UKZN’s preparation is in the advanced stage with terminology from research, accounting, and chemical engineering.

...Figure 16. DR9 Submission Process

Bua Le Nna Project

The University is proud that, despite the challenges highlighted above, it was able to carry on with other projects by adapting to the new norms.

The period under review saw Bua Le Nna – a programme aimed at teaching conversational Sesotho to non-Sesotho speaking students at UKZN student residences – transitioning from physical contact into an online project. All 12 planned sessions for 2020 were successfully hosted and completed.

As the project was offered online it was open to all students. The use of WhatsApp offered additional benefits on how to pronounce, read and write the language. The platform’s facility to record audio aided reading, pronouncing or writing responses during the session.

A positive lesson learnt was that the project needs thorough planning to be successful. To this end, the following working tools were developed:

  1. A lesson plan
  2. A lesson roster
  3. An online register
  4. A weekly preparation meeting and subsequent minutes
  5. The instruction channel weekly
  6. The weekly report

Around 36 students joined the sessions with a varying levels of active participation. If marketed well, the project has the potential to grow institution-wide.

Corpus Project

In line with the ULPDO’s objectives, the Corpus Project is subdivided into two parts – oral corpus and text corpus. UKZN has reached a milestone of more than 30 million running words and 139 hours 35 minutes and 55 seconds of audio that has been transcribed and verified. The tags were checked to establish whether they were compatible with the different languages used. The Office is also actively engaged in a continuous corpus collection drive. It has held discussions with the IsiZulu Dictionary Unit, Independent Media, Mavuso Media Group, Iziko Productions and Mavundla Media to interest them in contributing material to this venture. There are 19 645 parallel corpus sentences to date and more files will be added from the DR9 abstracts.

Bilingual Tutorial Workshops

The Office hosted a bilingual workshop in March 2020 before lockdown and continued this work under COVID-19 conditions. Virtual bilingual tutorial training sessions were hosted from 16-17 July and 27-28 August.

Facilitators from the Department of Education did an excellent job during the training sessions, while the participants played their part by asking relevant questions and making constructive comments. Participants reported that the project assisted them significantly and thanked the Office for ensuring that training was offered even under the difficult conditions of COVID-19.

Language Services

The Office provided language services to the entire University as usual. It achieved the following:

  1. Translations: more than 100 documents
  2. Interpreting: more than 20 sessions
  3. Editing: more than 150 documents

Research Projects

Research and development, central to the work of the ULPDO, aims to ensure that all its products are scientifically measurable. It is for this reason that the ULPDO initiated the seminar series in order to afford the staff members the opportunity to first present internally in preparation for national and international conferences. The five research papers presented, and peer reviewed by UKZN staff members, focused on most of the ULPDO’s projects. This series is designed to equip staff members with practical presentation skills in the field of language and academia in general.

This table shows the schedule for the series:

...Table 10. Series of papers presented by ULPDO staff

Stakeholder Relations: International Translation and Dictionary Day Celebrations

The ULPDO hosted a groundbreaking webinar on International Translation Day (30 September 2020). The event was the first of its kind held nationally after the lockdown, signifying the University’s commitment to emancipating indigenous languages as detailed in its Language Policy and Plan (2006 revised in 2014).

The theme of the webinar was: Finding the words for a world in crisis: Language practitioners’ challenges and opportunities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The keynote speaker was Professor Eleanor Cornelius of the University of Johannesburg with Dr Boni Zungu of the University of the Witwatersrand as a respondent.

The ULPDO participated in the celebration of International Dictionary Day at the Windmill Casino in Bloemfontein on 16 October 2020. ULPDO staff represented UKZN at this event organised by PanSALB to promote the development of the seSotho and seTswana languages and the compilation of dictionaries for these languages.

Contact UTLO:
2nd Floor, Francis Stock Building
Howard College Campus
University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 4041, South Africa.
Tel: +27 (0)31 260-3002