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Once the English version was complete, he started translating the book into Zulu, but he soon realised just how difficult it is to write about science in his mother tongue.It was possible to write extensively about a variety of technologies in English, but this was not the case for Zulu.“This is what is contributing to the demise of the language,” Mbuyazi says.

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“What is written for indigenous languages is only for the schools market,” he says.

Mbuyazi says this insight led him to create hundreds of new Zulu words to explain popular science-related concepts and words such as planet, Internet, airport, explorer, print, spark plug and even mathematics and technology.

He also developed words to explain contemporary phrases such as reduce, reuse, recycle and global warming.

Phiwayinkosi Mbuyazi, author of The WIBY Kids – How It All Began, and its subsequent Zulu version, Ama YIPHENDLEYA – Isi Qalo Sakho Konke, has combined his love for languages, science and technology to provide children with new Zulu words through which to explore the modern world.(Image: Phiwayinkosi Mbuyazi) A South African electrical engineer turned author has developed 480 new Zulu words to explain contemporary science and technology terms.

Phiwayinkosi Mbuyazi has combined his love for languages, science and technology to provide children with new Zulu words through which to explore the modern world, encourage a generation of enquiring minds and preserve his mother tongue.

Through his work, he wants to keep the Zulu language current by expanding its vocabulary, promoting mother tongue education, and encouraging people to read indigenous language books.“I wanted to write in Zulu about subjects no one else was writing about,” he says.“I knew that in technical fields there is nothing written in indigenous languages.” He wants to change perceptions about indigenous languages, and with the new words give people tools to understand and discuss contemporary science and technology in their home language.Becoming a language activist The 41-year-old author, who also studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University, decided to leave his day job to write a science and technology book for children.The WIBY Kids – How It All Began, and its subsequent Zulu version, Through his work, he wants to keep the Zulu language current by expanding its vocabulary, promoting mother tongue education, and encouraging people to read indigenous language books.(Image: With the book Mbuyazi wants to show that anyone can cultivate a dream and an innovative mind.While writing the Zulu version he also developed a brand new Zulu numbering system that lends itself to being spoken and translated into other languages with greater ease. “ are to science and technology what Harry Potter is to magic and wizardry.” What was 31 000 words in English, translated to 28 000 Zulu words of which 480 are brand new.

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