The Department of African Languages is one of the oldest departments within the Faculty of Humanities. From humble beginnings in three rondavels, where it was initially housed with the Departments of Anthropology and Archaeology, it has grown into a vibrant and dynamic Department, focusing strongly on innovative research and dedicated teaching. Initially, only two languages were offered within the Department, i.e. Sepedi / Sesotho sa Leboa (Northern Sotho) and isiZulu (Zulu), but in the late eighties, Setswana (Tswana) was added to the languages being offered, with isiNdebele (Ndebele) (spoken in South Africa) following suit in 1997. Setswana has in the meantime been discontinued. This Department is the only one in the country that offers isiNdebele at tertiary level.
The Department has a strong postgraduate component, offering amongst other programmes an honours degree, an MA in African languages – both by course work and research - as well as a DLitt in African Languages. We also host the very popular BA (Hons) programme in Translation and Professional Writing on behalf of the language departments. The programme is structured in such a way that students can choose whether they want to specialize in translation or professional writing. Modules on interpreting, subtitling, terminology and copywriting are also included in the programme. The modules dealing with translation are very popular and we offer state of the art training to prospective translators. This includes training in the use of translation technology in translation practice (such as computer-assisted translation tools, translation memory systems and electronic corpora), as well as training in localisation. Students can also become lexicographers, i.e. compilers of dictionaries by enrolling for our lexicography modules which are offered on Masters level. These modules are generic modules and are not restricted to students studying African languages – any student interested in language study can register for them.