Linguistics lecturer Mrs Muhle Sibisi won the Young Linguist Award at the prestigious 20th annual International Congress of Linguists which took place for the first time since its inauguration in 1928 on African soil
The congress, held at the Cape Town ICC, was attended by esteemed linguists from around the globe.
‘Such an award is motivating and challenges one to work harder,’ said Sibisi. ‘As a budding linguist, it is an honour to be recognised for the work I do. It gives me confidence to soldier on now that I have my foot in the door. It gives me a sense of belonging in linguistics as a field of study on the one hand and being part of the international community of linguists on the other hand.
‘I am blessed to have a very enthusiastic and motivating supervisor with a high work ethic. She is Professor Heike Tappe who believes in unleashing the full potential in all her students, not just me. She motivated me to submit an abstract and guided me along the way.’
Sibisi received the award based on her presentation entitled Exploring Attitudes Towards the Use of Poetry in the Presentation of Academic Content in isiZulu, in which she conducted an exploratory study in which poets recited a linguistics academic concept as a poem in isiZulu.
Sibisi, whose research interest lies in language policy, believes that isiZulu and other African languages are ‘under-used’ in accessing knowledge, including academic knowledge. ‘The use of African languages in Higher Education would enhance opportunities of access and success for the speakers of these languages,’ she claims.
Sibisi says she has always loved language, thus choosing linguistics as a field of study to investigate how languages work. Her current PhD study is on the attitudes of isiZulu-speaking students towards the use of discipline specific terminology in isiZulu and isiZulu as an academic language.
She hopes to engage in future studies that impact on people’s lives such as research on the use of isiZulu (and possibly other African languages) to disseminate knowledge in the education sector and in the public arena.
‘To the student fraternity I would like to say – hang in there. We need to work hard, not just for ourselves but for the future generations and the betterment of our world,’ advised Sibisi.