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Participants pictured at the ULPDO/UKhozi FM Workshop at UKZN’s Howard College campus.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal hosted a workshop for Ukhozi FM on the standard use of isiZulu on the radio. The workshop was held at UKZN’s Howard College campus on 11 October.

Hosted by the University Language Planning and Development Office (ULPDO), the purpose of the workshop was to strengthen the collaboration that currently exists between ULPDO and Ukhozi FM, and to a large extent the synergies that exist between the University and the SABC.

Director of ULPDO, Dr Langa Khumalo, emphasised the importance of using language scientifically. ‘When using language to address a particular subject it is useful to use appropriate and necessary terminology that is central to the subject,’ said Khumalo.

‘Sadly most African languages do not have this capacity, not because they are inherently deficient, but because of the evil system of apartheid and colonialism that deliberately relegated them to village dialects hence denied their use in education and science. UKZN has embarked on a language programme to intellectualise isiZulu so that it develops capacity to carry the rigors of science and technology.

Khumalo, who holds a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Oslo (Norway), said ‘the role of a radio station such as Ukhozi FM is significant not just to the people in KwaZulu-Natal, but to the nation at large’.

‘The way the language is used on air is viewed by and large as the standard. It is instructive to the broad listenership of the station. Hence the challenge is for the staff and broadcasters to demonstrate an appropriate level of use of the language in which they are broadcasting in.’

Khumalo reinforced the importance of Ukhozi FM using isiZulu appropriately, and following the standard form. ‘It means that the language should be used without codeswitching and codemixing. The latter is an immense challenge to a live broadcaster who has to find appropriate terminology in isiZulu while on full throttle,’ he said.

The one-day workshop focused on strategies for translanguaging, codemixing and codeswitching, and the use of standardised terminology for various specialised disciplines in isiZulu that are now available through a mobile compatible application developed by ULPDO for ease of access to end-users.

Acknowledged for its dedication to language policy, UKZN is in a prime position to address linguistic issues in the province. ‘Both institutions [UKZN and Ukhozi FM] work with language, and particularly isiZulu, which is the primary language at Ukhozi FM. The ULPDO has led the development of isiZulu and has the capacity to address complex linguistic phenomena,’ said Khumalo.

‘It is as a result of the progress that the University has made in the advancement of isiZulu that Ukhozi FM sought to partner with us in order to workshop their staff in News and Current Affairs division on the appropriate use of isiZulu across a plethora of general and specialised subjects that they broadcast on.’

The workshop has set the scene for future collaborations between the University and Ukhozi FM, one of the largest radio stations in Africa. ‘We certainly hope that this workshop is only the beginning of a series of such workshops. The imperative to develop isiZulu as a language capable of discussing a whole gamut of issues from mundane to most complex scientific knowledge is there,’ said Khumalo.

Words and photographs: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer