Minister Marais celebrates development of first ever trilingual Kaaps dictionary | Western Cape Government


Minister Marais celebrates development of first ever trilingual Kaaps dictionary

7 September 2021

As we celebrate Heritage Month, Minister Anroux Marais is happy to acknowledge the development of the first of its kind Trilingual Dictionary of Kaaps project.

Funded by the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) and the Centre for Language, Race, and Ethnicity at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the collaborative development is coordinated by The Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research (CMDR) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and Heal the Hood Project (a community NGO).

Prof Quentin Williams, Director of the CMDR, said, “This dictionary project aims to transform prevailing negative attitudes and perceptions of Kaaps and its speakers by producing an educational resource that will support social and academic literacy practices in the education, religious, cultural, political and economic spheres of our democratic society.”

As the DCAS Annual Funding process affords the Arts and Culture component the opportunity to create an enabling environment, innovative partnerships with cultural organizations of this nature is pivotal to further strengthen development, promotion and preservation of the Western Cape Arts and Culture sector.

Minister Marais said, “In pursuit of excellence and inclusivity as well as encouraging safe and healthy practices, funding initially earmarked for Minstrel activities and other postponed events, was redirected for skills training, performances and the promotion of new works due to the impact of the pandemic. As many organizations were unable to immediately respond to the new challenges, our budget was reallocated to prioritize skills development which includes collaborative programmes to enhance initiatives for organizations and by extension, all who calls the Western Cape home”.

In light of the above and given the current situation under which cultural organizations operate, the Western Cape Government is pleased to be funding partner to the Heal the Hood Project and the UWC as they:

  • Shed further light on the historical roots of Kaaps;
  • Contribute to current debates about the unification of the writing system of Kaaps;
  • Document the use of Kaaps across all relevant modalities, platforms, genres, practices, performances, interactions and linguistic landscapes; and
  • Describe the lived linguistic experiences of speakers of Kaaps.

Kaaps was created in Southern Africa during the 1500s. It remains one of the oldest and most marginalized ways of speaking. For decades, activists, academics, artists and authors campaigned for the empowerment of Kaaps speakers and the transformation of schools, universities and the economy. With this dictionary project, together with Heal the Hood Project and UWC, we are taking the first real step in that direction.  

Media Enquiries: 

Stacy McLean
Spokesperson for the Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais
083 504 1171