James Mafela


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African WordNet: A Viable Tool for Sense Discrimination in the Indigenous African Languages of South Africa
Stanley Madonsela | Mampaka Lydia Mojapelo | Rose Masubelele | James Mafela
Proceedings of the 8th Global WordNet Conference (GWC)

In promoting a multilingual South Africa, the government is encouraging people to speak more than one language. In order to comply with this initiative, people choose to learn the languages which they do not speak as home language. The African languages are mostly chosen because they are spoken by the majority of the country’s population. Most words in these languages have many possible senses. This phenomenon tends to pose problems to people who want to learn these languages. This article argues that the African WordNet may the best tool to address the problem of sense discrimination. The focus of the argument will be on the primary sense of the word ‘hand’, which is part of the body, as lexicalized in three indigenous languages spoken in South Africa, namely, Tshivenḓa, Sesotho sa Leboa and isiZulu. A brief historical background of the African WordNet will be provided, followed by the definition of the word ‘hand’ in the three languages and the analysis of the word in context. Lastly, the primary sense of the word ‘hand’ across the three languages will be discussed.