Speech

Launch of Afrikaans Space Dictionary

5 October 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, astronautical language practitioners, engineers and specialists, it is a great honour for me to be here today, as culture meets science with the launch of an Afrikaans Space Dictionary.

'n Woordeboek, ook bekend as 'n leksikon, is sonder twyfel een van die mees kritieke instrumente van 'n beskawing. Die effek op 'n mens wat nie daartoe toegang het nie, hoef nie deur my verduidelik te word nie.

While there are differing opinions on what is considered to be the oldest dictionary, many accept a Chinese dictionary dating around the third century as the earliest record of a monolingual dictionary in the format that we have come to know. Before this we had the bilingual cuneiform tablets found in the Akkadian empire around 2300 BC. These were found in an area today known as Syria. Despite these early forms of dictionaries it wasn't until the 18th century that English language speakers had one collected volume to refer to for the meaning of words. The first Afrikaans dictionary was published a century later, around 1875 by the Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners ("Society for Real Afrikaners") in Cape Town, the city we stand in today. This tells me that we must have some truly brilliant linguistic and scientific minds in this city.

Ek lees op die internet dat 'n geskatte 90 tot 95% van die Afrikaanse woordeskat van Nederlandse oorsprong is, maar dat Afrikaans ook woorde uit ander tale soos Maleis, Portugees, die Nguni- en Sotho-tale asook Khoisantale oorgeneem het. Ek hoop dat sommige van hierdie Khoisan-, Nguni- en Sotho-woorde in julle woordeboek opgeneem sal word. Daar is ongeveer 6 miljoen mense met Afrikaans as hulle moedertaal in Suid-Afrika, en julle verteenwoordig 13.3% van die land se bevolking.

There is also no definite figure for the number of dictionaries that have been published, but it is estimated that there is at least one dictionary for most of the 5 000 foreign languages spoken throughout the world today.

Vandag se bekendstelling van die Afrikaanse Ruimtevaart-woordeboek is voorwaar 'n prestasie, veral as 'n mens sien dat die belangrikste Afrikaanse woordeboek, die Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (WAT), nog nie voltooi is nie. Natuurlik is die skaal van die WAT-projek heelwat groter.

I'm sure it is also no coincidence that the 2011 International Astronautical Congress is being held on African soil for the first time in over 60 years; moreover, that it is being hosted in the country that gave birth to the Afrikaans language.

Vanaf die eerste wêreldreisigers, wat met behulp van die sterre hulle roete bepaal het, tot die finale bevinding dat die Aarde rond is; tot die ruimtevaarte wat die wêreld se volgehoue aandag behou, en die mensdom se onophoudelike verwondering met die heelal, oorkant die grense van ons atmosfeer, so duidelik uitgebeeld in vele rolprente - James Bond, 2001 Space Odyssey, en nog vele meer, is dit duidelik dat ruimtenavorsing vir ons net so belangrik is as die publikasie van die heel eerste woordeboek.

I also feel a sense of personal pride this evening, as I learnt that academics from my Alma Mater, Stellenbosch University, were involved in the research and publication of this dictionary.

From a Wesgro report titled Aerospace and Defence Sector: Fact Sheet, I can share the following information with you on the Western Cape's space industry:

"Total exports from the Western Cape in this sector totalled R20.05 million in 2010. The top exports of aerospace products in 2010 to the Western Cape were aircraft and spacecraft parts (R14.8 million) and aircraft, spacecraft and satellites (R4.3 million). Exports of aircraft-launching gear and flight simulators grew by 250.74% from 2009 to 2010 and 143.23% from 2006 to 2010, while exports of parachute parts and accessories grew by 557.81% from 2009 to 2010. Imports of aerospace products to South Africa in 2010 totalled R367.3 million, an increase of 25.76% since 2006."

Dames en here, ek is geen Buzz Aldrin of Neil Armstrong nie. Die enigste Armstrongs wat ek ken is Louis Armstrong en Lance Armstrong. Ondanks my gebrek aan kundigheid oor julle studieterrein, is ek voorwaar hoogs beïndruk deur die werk wat julle verrig. Soos die Nasionale Minister van Handel en Nywerheid, mnr. Rob Davies, op 'n ander aand hier gesê het, ruimtegebaseerde tegnologie is nie net vir akademici en wetenskaplikes nie. Dit kan ook help om die ontwikkelingsprobleme in Afrika op te los - vanaf energieproduksie en telekommunikasie tot voedselsekuriteit en die mees kritieke aspek, werkskepping.

I am sure that with this dictionary you will now be able to serve South Africa and the global space fraternity more efficiently as you make new discoveries. South Africa is now officially associated with the astronautical fraternity around the world.

Thank you.