Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies

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Corpus applications for the African languages, with special reference to research, teaching, learning and software

DJ Prinsloo, Gilles-Maurice de Schryver


The point of departure of the present article is the realisation that more and more serious contemporary linguistic applications are based on electronic corpora. If African linguistics is to take its rightful place in the new millennium, the active compilation, querying and application of corpora should therefore become an absolute priority. In order to illustrate the feasibility of corpus applications for the African languages at present, the article first considers 'fundamental linguistic research' in the fields of phonetics and question particles. It is shown how that research was boosted as a result of the utilisation of corpora. In a second section 'language teaching and learning' is given due attention by means of the corpus-aided compilation of pronunciation guides and textbooks, and the teaching of morpho-syntactic and contrastive structures. Finally, in the field of 'language software', a series of first-generation spellcheckers based on corpora is reviewed. All applications are exemplified with reference to one or more of the following African languages: Cilubà, Sepedi, isiXhosa, isiZulu, and Setswana.

(S/ern Af Linguistics & Applied Language Stud: 2001 19(1&2): 111-131)
AJOL African Journals Online