ASSAf News

Royal Society of South Africa and the Academy of Science of South Africa invite you to a public lecture by Dr Tessa Dowling, Senior Lecturer of African Languages in the School of Languages and Literatures, University of Cape Town and a director of African Voices, on ‘Thatha machance!” (Take chances!) Safe bets and wild gambles in the study of African languages.’


There are perceptions that African languages are too difficult to learn, have inadequate vocabularies, possess rogue grammars and are on their way to dying out.  In this talk I hope to show how robust South Africa’s African languages are (the most listened-to radio station in Africa is UKhozi – Radio Zulu), how agilely they adapt to and accommodate other languages,  and yet how vulnerable they are as fewer and fewer scholars study them to keep their textually recorded lexicons up to date and contemporary. 

About the Speaker:

Tessa Dowling is a senior lecturer in African languages at the University of Cape Town. She has written textbooks for the learning of African languages, as well as English, and is frequently called upon by the media to comment on issues relating to African languages. She writes serious academic papers and lighter pieces on African languages and is a popular speaker at conferences. Her research focuses on new varieties of African languages as well as the way language impacts on understandings of health and medical interventions among speakers of African languages. 

Date:     Wednesday 15 February 2017

Time:    17h00 (Tea will be served from 16h30)

Place:    South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) Auditorium, Observatory Road, Observatory* 

*Directions to SAAO Auditorium : From the N2, turn off to the M57 – Liesbeek Parkway; turning in the direction of Cape Town and continue until the traffic lights with Hartleyvale (hockey and football) on your left. Turn right at traffic lights into Observatory Road, pass the River Club; the S A Astronomical Observatory is next on the left. Once through the security gates bear left following the SALT signs to the auditorium i.e. last building on the left (white with stoep & ramp).