Original Research

Intellectualisation of Northern Sotho through English terminology adaptation

Matefu L. Mabela, Thabo Ditsele
Literator | Vol 45, No 1 | a2031 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v45i1.2031 | © 2024 Matefu L. Mabela, Thabo Ditsele | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 October 2023 | Published: 30 April 2024

About the author(s)

Matefu L. Mabela, Department of Applied Languages, Faculty of Humanities, Tshwane University of Technology, Tshwane, South Africa
Thabo Ditsele, Department of Applied Languages, Faculty of Humanities, Tshwane University of Technology, Tshwane, South Africa


This study aimed to investigate and propose a pragmatic approach in the adaptation of English terminologies for scientific purposes into Northern Sotho. This is necessary because of the lack of terminologies to describe and define scientific phenomena in the language. Languages are constantly evolving, and speakers drive their evolution. The study aimed to overcome the scientific terminology development challenge for Northern Sotho by analysing existing data and using corpus linguistics as a method. The Multilingual Natural Science and Technology Dictionary Grade 4–6 (2013) was used to provide illustrative examples and clarify linguistic complexities in scientific terminology. The study revealed the complexity of the linguistic adaptation of Northern Sotho and the challenges and pitfalls linked to the integration of borrowed English terminology into academic discourse, encompassing apprehensions concerning accuracy, clarity and cultural appropriateness. Furthermore, the findings indicated that the puristic term adaptation approach tends to be perplexing.

Contribution: This study contributes to the intellectualisation and revitalisation of Northern Sotho by enhancing the language and equipping its speakers to engage more efficiently in scientific contexts, illuminating intricacies and potential misrepresentations inherent in the process of adaptation. Moreover, the research underscored the significance of employing adaptation strategies that are suitable for the Northern Sotho context and are consistent with linguistic patterns and semantics.



intellectualisation; language modernisation; language adaptation; pragmatic approach; lexicography; terminology development; coinage; corpus linguistics

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education


Total abstract views: 643
Total article views: 536

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.