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Tue Sep 27 09:01:03 SAST 2016

Howzat?! Cricket fans can soon become pitch perfect in IsiXhosa

TANYA FARBER | 22 February, 2016 11:47
Cricket bat. File photo
Image by: Carl Fourie / Gallo Images

HAVE you ever been check-mated in Xhosa with an uthinjiwe from your chess opponent? Or heard a cricketer shout kunjani at the umpire while you tuck into your cucumber sandwiches?

Western Cape premier Helen Zille said in her State of the Province address on Friday that in the past year, her language unit had launched the “official isiXhosa terminology for chess” and would soon be launching the official terminology for the game of cricket.

“By standardising these terms, we are capturing the colour of this beautiful language and promoting its popular use among all South Africans,” she said.

Ukusitha uthinti could then stand in for leg before wicket or been voor paaltjie.

Cricket fan Samkelo Khathini​ said: “It’s not just whites who watch cricket, so it will be fun to hear our language out on the pitch. Maybe howzat will disappear one day.”

Fellow South African cricket fan Simon Gates, whose parents are from England, said: “Yes why not? This is South Africa. Who needs howzat when you’ve got howzit?”

But Gugulethu resident Katie Apleni says she doubts those words will fly.

“When people of different colours play together and they mix the language, they Xhosalise English words. They are not going to take exact translations. Zille wants it to be pure Xhosa but it won’t be because even now you hear children putting an English word into Xhosa to make it sound like Xhosa if we don’t have that word. Orange is an example. We just say ‘orange’ but make it sound like it’s not English.”

Unisa researcher doctor Nkidi Phatudi, an education expert at Unisa, said the only real way to introduce bilingualism naturally was to strengthen the offering of all languages at school.

“True bilingualism is when languages are introduced at the same level, but unfortunately we don't find that in schools here in South Africa.”

She said even by the end of primary school, some pupils were not able to converse in their second language that had been taught.

“We urgently need additional teaching materials in African languages, and more commitment to them in the schooling system."

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