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Afrikaans place names were not only given by Afrikaner people, says professor.
2012-09-25

Prof. Peter Raper delivering his lecture on South African place names.
25 September 2012

 Prof. Peter Raper, honorary professor at the Department of Linguistics and Language Practice, delivered a public lecture in Clarens earlier this month. The theme of the lecture was “From Stone Age to GPS: The fourth edition of the South African Place Names Dictionary”.

Prof. Raper shared the historical development of the project as well as the challenges and other interesting observations associated with the topic. He elaborated on the dramatic change in the focus of his research on place names in South Africa.

It was previously assumed that all of the Afrikaans place names were given by the Afrikaner people and that changing these place names was consistent with the mandate of the South African Geographical Names Council (SAGNC) to transform place names. Prof. Raper said more in-depth research revealed that a significant number of place names are actually translations of original San names – into Afrikaans, Khoi and the Bantu languages. He told the audience that given the constitutional stipulation that no cultural group’s heritage may be removed, this discovery calls into the question the modus operandi of the SAGNC.

Prof. Raper’s lecture was part of the conference programme of the Third International MIDP IV Symposium that took place on the Qwaqwa campus. The MIDP (Multilingual Information Development Programme) is a project sponsored by the Province of Antwerp. The theme for this year’s symposium was “Multilingualism for Empowerment” and was presented in collaboration with the University of Antwerp.

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