Report: South Africa in 2016

The main objective is to collect data in relation to several specific student/researcher project which we are currently specifying. People will collaborate in small teams of 2-4 people in order to learn from one another and complement each other.

One of the places we shall visit is Mokopane (Limpopo Province) where we will meet with speakers of what used to be called Northern Transvaal Ndebele – the speakers themselves simply refer to their language as Sindebele.

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From there, it is not far to the second place that is part of our visit: the Weltevrede/Siyabuswa area in Mpumalanga Province. This is where the traditional Ndzundza authorities have their residence and is, in a sense, the cultural heartland of the isiNdebele culture. IsiNdebele – also referred to as South Ndebele – is one of South Africa’s eleven official languages. Despite the similarity in name, this variety is rather different from the Sindebele variety mentioned earlier.

From Weltevrede/Siyabuswa, it is again not far to the third place we shall visit – Moloto, right on the border of the Mpumalanga and Gauteng Provinces, and in fact quite close to Pretoria, South Africa’s capital.

The linguistic setting is quite diverse here with many languages besides isiNdebele coming into play: Sesotho sa Lebowa (Northern Sotho), Setswana, isiZulu, as well as Afrikaans and of course English are commonly used here. While this makes fieldwork often challenging, it is also highly interesting. We have been collecting in Moloto for some time now for our contact linguistics Academy of Finland project – the pic is from a stay in November 2015.

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