The first English-Zulu dictionary for more than 40 years has been published in South Africa.

Zulu is South Africa’s most common African language, and it is hoped the new dictionary will help break down the language barriers in a country where English is the main language used for business and politics. Zulus are the largest ethnic group in the country, and 2.8 million school pupils study the language.

South Africa has 11 different official languages. Many children speak Zulu at home but are taught in English at school. It is hoped the dictionary will bring together children who speak Zulu and English.

Megan Hall, the publisher’s manager for dictionaries, said: “To our knowledge the last substantial bilingual Zulu dictionary was published more than four decades ago. A great deal has changed since then – in the world around us, the language we use to talk about it, as well as in the way we now make dictionaries.”

Hall said the book had been an “enormous project” that took more than three and a half years and involved an international team of academics, teachers, language experts and specialist lexicographers. “It’s taken so long because it’s an exceptionally difficult job.”

It included research with sample entries at schools in the Zulu heartland, KwaZulu-Natal province. “We found out that teachers wanted key curriculum words included in the dictionary, together with definitions – something never done before in a bilingual dictionary of this sort,” Hall said. “So we selected terms from textbooks across the curriculum, like acid, greenhouse effect and multiply, and gave learners and teachers the support they’d asked for.” (Source: The Guardian)

Take a look at the full article for some examples of Zulu translated into English.