Setswana online dictionary launched by Oxford Dictionaries

“the most definitive lexicographic project in the development and  promotion of the Setswana language since the publication of the first  English-Setswana bilingual dictionary” 

Professor Thapelo Otlogetswe    

May 2016: Setswana has become the 6th language to become available in an Oxford living dictionary as part of Oxford Dictionaries’ global language initiative.

Oxford Global Languages (OGL) is a new initiative from Oxford Dictionaries and Oxford University Press which launched in September 2015. Aiming to build dictionaries and lexicographical resources for around 100 of the world’s languages and to make them available online, or digitally, the project’s objective is to increase access to availability of language content globally.

“Oxford Global Languages has a special focus on those languages which we know are widely spoken but are digitally under-represented,” explained Judy Pearsall, Director for Oxford Dictionaries. “We recognise that the internet is dominated by English and other major global languages. We are at a critical time of how the internet is influencing language and its impact on its diversity. Oxford Global Languages will ensure that many underserved languages gain a vital digital foothold.”

A key feature of Oxford Global Languages is community involvement, with users being able to submit words and influence the future content of individual dictionary sites. This activity is led by specially appointed Language Managers who are native speakers of the language being developed and also often users of language resources in a teaching or professional role.

“For the first time, it will make available online, the rich Setswana-English lexical resources of Oxford University Press that will benefit journalists, teachers and students, translators and writers in Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe” commented Professor Thapelo J. Otlogetswe, Setswana Language Manager, Oxford Global Languages

“The cross-border nature of the Setswana language, demands a digital and multi-national approach to its documentation which is provided for by the Oxford Language Initiative. The project is therefore a source of pride for the Setswana language” he explained.

Each language is also supported by a Language Champion who will provide strategic advice and help grow awareness of the initiative. Mr Ogodiseng Mokakale is the Setswana Language Champion for Oxford Global Languages and commented “by having a living dictionary such as this, our language will... grow and develop digitally to be on the same level as others”.

The Oxford Global Languages initiative will also build a new type of language database which enables multiple links between languages and other content.

“As English speakers we take so much for granted,” said Pearsall. “Functionality such as predictive text and being able to search effectively are only possible when a language is digitally recorded and accessible for a range of technologies. The Oxford Global Languages initiative will enable this too.”

The Setswana site can be found at


For more information on the Oxford Global Languages  Project follow this link:

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Notes to the editor: 

About Oxford University Press 

Oxford University Press (OUP) is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. OUP is the world's largest university press with the widest global presence. It currently publishes thousands of new publications a year, has offices in around fifty countries, and employs nearly 7,000 people worldwide. It has become familiar to millions through a diverse publishing programme that includes scholarly works in all academic disciplines, bibles, music, school and college textbooks, children's books, materials for teaching English as a foreign language, business books, dictionaries and reference books, and academic journals.

About the Oxford Global Languages initiative
 As the makers of the world-famous Oxford English Dictionary and a department of Oxford University, UK, Oxford is already a world leader in the dissemination of English language materials, and publishes language resources in more than 40 languages. In partnership with language technologists, Oxford’s lexicographers and language researchers are leading the way in creating language content built for the digital world, providing language content tailored for the world’s major technology companies. Now, a new team at Oxford is focusing on global languages and those language communities that have less resource and access to digital language tools and are in danger of getting left behind in the digital race. Oxford’s new programme is designed to help millions all over the world create, maintain, and use the language materials they need while at the same time developing ground-breaking digital-ready content formats to support the growing language needs of technology companies worldwide. The model attempts to create a win-win situation for everyone involved: communities contribute content, licensees get the content and new digital formats they need, and Oxford generates enough money to publish and keep the services free to all.

To support this ambitious endeavour, Oxford technologists are building an innovative system to integrate and link together language content.

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