Dodoma. A new comprehensive dictionary for Kiswahili language has been launched here on Monday as the government seeks to improve usage of the language and extend it beyond the country’s borders.
The Kamusi Kuu ya Kiswahili (Comprehensive Kiswahili Dictionary) is a brainchild of the National Kiswahili Council (Baraza la Kiswahili Tanzania – Bakita) in partnership with Longhorn Publishers Tanzania Ltd.
Actual launch of the dictionary took place within the Parliament’s debating chamber in a symbol of the importance of the legislature in advancing the language, touted as being one of the major factors behind Tanzania’s unity.
“The launch of this dictionary in this House reminds us that in 1962, the founder of the nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere addressed the Parliament in Kiswahili. One year later, it was approved as the national language,” said the chairman for Monday’s parliament session, Mr Mussa Azan Zungu.
According to the Bakita executive secretary, Dr Selemani Sewangi said the dictionary – which is written in Kiswahili and translated into Kiswahili (Kiswahili to Kiswaili) – has consumed over Sh100 million. The actual process of writing the dictionary started on 12th August 2011 and was completed in 2015 when the first edition was published.
“This dictionary comes complete with over 45,500 main words. It has several new words and it also has provisions that direct someone on how to pronounce certain words,” he said as he took participants through some of the features of the dictionary.
The dictionary has already been approved by the Tanzania Institute of Education – a body that is responsible for approving materials to facilitate provision of quality education through quality curricula in pre-primary, primary, secondary and teacher education in the country.
Similarly, the new dictionary has the nod of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.
Gracing the event, Prime Minister, Mr Kassim Majaliwa said he hoped the dictionary will also be endorsed by other East African Community (EAC) member countries as the importance of Kiswahili grows across the region.