UKZN’s Language Planning and Development Office recently hosted a workshop on the Howard College campus titled: “Terminology: Fundamentals for Practice and Research”.
The workshop was facilitated by the Chairperson of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Cape Town, Professor Bassey Antia, who was acknowledged for his expertise in multilingualism and terminology by the Director of UKZN’s Language Planning and Development Office, Dr Langa Khumalo.
Bassey said UKZN’s focus on the issue of language and its role in transformation had been applauded nationally and internationally. ‘This workshop on terminology is very central to that vision. Epistemological access is a critical component of language-based transformation in Higher Education in South Africa,’ said Bassey.
He said making knowledge available in a language which the students were proficient in was consistent with ‘language-based transformation intended to foster epistemological access.
‘Students are frequently unable to access the knowledge on offer, in part because of the language in which that knowledge is presented,’ he said.
Bassey emphasised the fact that terms were the central pieces in the construction of knowledge. If the terms in a text were unfamiliar, that text was meaningless. ‘Terms are the building blocks of specialised knowledge,’ he said.
He said producing lecture materials in indigenous languages on the basis of the terminology created, did not necessarily guarantee ‘integral understanding of the material in the home language’. Illustrating this point, Bassey said: ‘Scholars have pointed out that academic language is no-one’s mother tongue. So the fact that I grew up speaking English as a home language does not mean that I would understand a text written in English on the subject of Nuclear Physics - I have to be taught.
‘So by the same token, no-one should assume that because we have created terminology and text in isiZulu, students should automatically understand one hundred percent. We need to go a step further and create academic literacy programmes in isiZulu, just as we have such programmes in English, French and German,’ he concluded.
The workshop included sessions on term spotting, theoretical foundations for terminology practice and the contextualisation of terminology within Language for Special Purposes.