Research Project

Variation in Sesotho and Setswana as spoken in the Free State

Principal Investigator
Dr Hannah Gibson

How do we improve the descriptive status of Sesotho and Setswana?

The British Academy Newton scheme funded project ‘Variation in Sesotho and Setswana as spoken in the Free State’ aims to provide an initial linguistic description of two languages spoken in the Free State, South Africa – Sesotho and Setswana. 

Sesotho and Setswana are two of the 11 official languages of South Africa and are spoken by approximately 13.9 million and 13. 7 million people respectively.

Despite this however, there is little known about the dialectal variation found in these languages. There are signs that the ‘standard’ varieties used in formal contexts, and taught in schools for example, diverge substantially from contemporary spoken forms.

This project combines primary data collection with speakers and the development of academic outputs, with a view to contributing to the improved descriptive status of both of these languages.

Through workshops and training sessions, the project also contributes to the development of skills in linguistic description and analysis for researchers working in Southern Africa, as well as adding to the development of improved educational resources in these languages.

Contact us
Principle Investigator Dr Hannah Gibson
University of Essex
Departmental Director of Research Professor Florence Myles
Department of Language and Linguistics