RWC Workshop Motivates Mother-Tongue Speakers in Tanzania

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Ikizu-Sizaki word-collection group

(January 2017) Johnny Walker (SIL) facilitated a Rapid Word Collection workshop in Tanzania for two closely related language communities, Ikizu and Sizaki, with the goal of producing a joint trilingual dictionary: Ikizu/Sizaki-Swahili-English. In addition to the expected outcome of collecting more than 10,000 words, this workshop had an unanticipated positive result—a community motivated to establish a “dictionary committee” to deal with formal recognition of new terms in the language

This was the second RWC workshop that Johnny led independently after being trained in 2014, and he felt more comfortable in the role this time around than he did in 2015 when he led his first one. His increased effectiveness yielded the results we have come to expect from a fully staffed 10-day workshop: 13,504 words collected in 1,624 semantic domains.

What no one necessarily expected, but which everyone involved got very excited about, was the fact that this workshop led to the Ikizu and Sizaki communities becoming quite enthusiastic about their perceived need for developing mother-tongue terminology for modern terms like “computer,” “television,” and “radio” rather than just using borrowed words. It was decided that the decision for inclusion of such neologisms in the dictionary should be made by a committee that would research them well prior to recommending them. This "dictionary committee" is only an idea at this point, but everyone involved with the workshop—participants and organizers alike—found the initiative to be a positive and energizing next step.

Read the Ikizu-Suzaki RWC workshop report.