The study was aimed at establishing in a scientific way the extent to which Sepedi is able to fulfill its role as one of the official languages in South Africa. The primary research question was whether Sepedi could function as a medium of communication in all the higher domains of life. The research question was addressed by firstly making a study of the language clauses and the language stipulations of the South African Constitution. The second step was to situate the research within the theoretical paradigm of language development and language planning and to take cognizance of both international and local perspectives in this field. In order to plan the way forward it was necessary to determine the exact position of Sepedi as far as the adequacy of its lexicon was concerned. As a result of the fact that there are very few written sources in Sepedi regarding some of the high function domains it was decided to compile a corpus of South African English high function words to form the basis for determining the lexical capacity of Sepedi in higher function domains. The procedure for building a corpus was determined by studying the methodology and praxis of three well-known international corpora of English. Following the same basic strategies as the compilers of these corpora an English High Function Corpus was compiled. By making use of standard techniques in computational lexicography frequencies and spreading were determined, and keywords were studied in context. In order to establish whether Sepedi does indeed have translation equivalents for the English high function words, and has the lexical capacity to act as a fully-fledged official language, the most appropriate sources to be used as diagnostic instruments were found to be the existing bilingual English-Sepedi dictionaries. The treatment of lexical items in the English-Sepedi bilingual dictionaries led to the conclusion that only 8 of the English high function words were not entered in any of the three dictionaries studied. The investigation also provided valuable insight into the quality and comprehensiveness of these dictionaries and indicated that they are in dire need of revision. Language planners and lexicographers of Sepedi are advised to make use of the heuristic and diagnostic tools available in modem-day metalexicography, but also to make sure that all lexicographical work reflects the linguistic reality within the speech community.
Thesis (DLitt (African Languages))--University of Pretoria, 2006.