Just last week I posted about a man who had made it his life’s work to produce a Yiddish-Japanese dictionary.

Now it’s revealed a Chinese man is compiling a Swahili-Chinese dictionary. Twenty-six year old Shen Yuning announced the plan on his blog last December, and has so far completed nearly 5,000 words.

Yuning is studying African languages at university in Germany, but is currently an exchange student in Kenya. He works up to 15 hours a day on the dictionary, and plans to include 25,000 words by August. The words included come from interaction with locals as well as Yuning’s study of books, newspapers and television.

Yuning’s friends say he is very interested in linguistics and can talk about word meanings for hours. He hopes that his dictionary will help international workers:

There is an increasing exchange of labor between Africa and China, but many Chinese workers here can speak only Chinese, while locals only speak Swahili and poor English,” said Shen, an exchange student at Kenya’s Kenyatta University.

“Of the several African languages I’ve learned, Swahili is my best,” Shen said, adding that Swahili is also the most important language in East African countries including Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, with more than 80 million speakers.

He hopes the dictionary will be helpful for Chinese workers in East Africa.

“There are free online translation tools, but they are rubbish when it comes to the translation of African language,” Shen said.

“Moreover, most Chinese workers in Africa don’t have easy access to the Internet, while a dictionary is portable and much more convenient to use.” (Source: China Daily)