Newsletter 6 – January 2002

Compiler: M. Alberts



Report on AFRILEX activities during 2001


Terminology seminar

On the 28th and 29th of May 2001, AFRILEX hosted a Two-Day Seminar on Terminology in Pretoria. The seminar was presented by Proff. Sven Tarp and Rufus Gouws, and was well-attended by a delegation from the National Language Service of the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (DACST) and members of the various National Lexicography Units (NLUs). Even though the seminar was primarily theory-driven, the practical implications for the South African lexicographical landscape were given due attention and proved very enlightening indeed.




Annual International Conference

The 6th International Conference of AFRILEX was held in Pietersburg from 2 to 4 July 2001. Some 30 papers were presented and the conference, although taking place in the deep hinterland of South Africa, was attended by over 70 people. Attendees came from various countries in Africa and Europe, with especially strong Gabonese and Zimbabwean delegations. Keynotes were presented by Gilles-Maurice de Schryver (Lexicographers’ Dreams in the Electronic-Dictionary Age) and Prof. Danie Prinsloo (Corpus-Based African-Language Lexicography). The program consisted further of special sessions and parallel sessions during which the conference theme (Computational Lexicography and the Development of Corpora) and other issues of lexicographical importance were evenly balanced. The discussions, both those following the presentations and those during the unofficial program, were lively, and there was a general consensus that African-language lexicography has taken its rightful place in the digital era.




Annual General Meeting

The 6th Annual General Meeting of AFRILEX was held in Pietersburg during the Conference and took place on 3 July 2001. The meeting was attended by some 70 members.


The newly elected Executive Board consists of DJ Prinsloo (Chairperson), RH Gouws (Vice-Chairperson), KJ Mashamaite (Secretary), MJ Mojalefa (Treasurer), M Alberts (Registrar) and G-M de Schryver (Organiser). The other elected Board members are ML Mphahlele, MH Mpungose and FM Shoba.


It was decided at the AGM that the 7th International Conference of AFRILEX will be held in Grahamstown, South Africa, from 8 to 10 July 2002 (immediately following the world-renowned Grahamstown Arts Festival). The local organiser is Ms Kathy Kavanagh ( and the conference theme is ‘Culture and Dictionaries’. Prof. H Bergenholtz, who has done extensive research in Madagascar and edited a Malagasy-German dictionary in 1991, has been invited to read a keynote. The other keynote will be read by Prof. AC Nkabinde.


Looking further ahead, the 2003 conference is planned to take place in Windhoek, Namibia, and the 2004 Conference in Libreville, Gabon.


Contributed by

Gilles-Maurice de Schryver, AFRILEX Organiser

Ghent University, Belgium


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Our faults irritate us most when we see them in others.

— Pennsylvania Dutch Proverb


Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.

— Mark Twain


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A Short summary of an ongoing “Laurence Urdang Award (LUA)” project


The compilation of an electronic Sepedi reference package within the framework of Fuzzy SF

The 2000 Laurence Urdang Award to the value of 1,000 GBP was awarded to Mr. Gilles-Maurice de Schryver for the compilation of an electronic Sepedi reference package within the framework of Fuzzy SF. Additional funding was received from the Department of African Languages of the University of Pretoria. This is a brief report of the first six months of the project.


In order to address the absence of a solid metalexicographic framework enabling the compilation of African-language dictionaries, the theoretical concept of Simultaneous Feedback was introduced in 1997. Simultaneous Feedback (SF) can be understood as entailing a method in terms of which the release of several small-scale parallel dictionaries triggers off feedback that is instantly channelled back into the compilation process of a main dictionary. The aim of this project is to take the gist of SF one step further. Instead of merely describing the theoretical parameters for the production of a (paper) dictionary for a particular target user group, a metalexicographic framework for an electronic package is being designed with which any user can produce his or her own tailored reference work. This package consists of a relational database plus corpus in which the traditional macrostructure is exploded. Artificial Intelligence (AI) components enable the implicit retrieval of personalised user feedback with which the package customises the user's dictionary. All the data in both the database and the corpus are graded using Fuzzy Sets, so that the package only answers queries on the user's level. The working title for this new theoretical framework is Fuzzy SF.


During the first three months of the project, the main theoretical aspects of Fuzzy SF were fleshed out, and all practicalities were set in place for the actual implementation of this innovative dictionary concept to Sepedi. A computer suite at the University of Pretoria was equipped with 6 linked Pentiums. A team was assembled consisting of three lexicographers and two corpus builders, all of them mother-tongue speakers contracted with the help of the Sepedi National Lexicography Unit (NLU) and the Department of African Languages. Finally, some features of the Onoma Lexical Workbench were adapted to the main requirements of the project.


In the subsequent three months, a training period was initiated by the LUA recipient (Gilles-Maurice de Schryver) in the writing of monolingual dictionary definitions, and the building of an electronic corpus. Apart from a transfer of the theoretical principles underlying the work, hands-on computational support in the use of Onoma, OCR scanners, WordSmith Tools, etc. was also provided. Within 3 months, the SQL database contained over 1,000 lemma signs and the raw corpus had grown to 5.8 million tokens.


The first half-year results are as follows:


·        The Lexicography and Terminology Development Subcommittee of the Pan South African Language Board (PANSALB) was invited to visit the project at the University of Pretoria (27 June 2001), with the aim that this project would serve as an example for the other eight African-language NLUs.

·        A Special Session was organised during the 6th International Conference of AFRILEX (Pietersburg, South Africa, 2-4 July 2001) during which the lexicographers presented their work, both from a theoretical and a practical angle.

·        Also during that Special Session, a hardcopy of the database was distributed as the first parallel dictionary of the Pukuntšutlhaloši ya Sesotho sa Leboa (PyaSsaL) ‘Explanatory Sepedi Dictionary’. All delegates participated in an experiment to retrieve feedback. (And this feedback is currently being analysed and fed back into the project.)

·        The core of the theoretical concept of Fuzzy SF was presented at the 2001 Asian Association for Lexicography (ASIALEX) Biennial Conference (Seoul, Korea, 8-10 August 2001).

·        The text of that presentation was published in the ASIALEX 2001 PROCEEDINGS, Asian Bilingualism and the Dictionary: 141–146. Seoul: Centre for Linguistic Informatics Development, Yonsei University. It has also been selected by the editors of Studies in Lexicography, to be included in volume 11 of their semi-annual journal.

·        A Research Article was published in Lexikos 11 (2001: 1–37) in which the various compilation aspects of PyaSsaL are examined and illustrated. One onomasiological sub-field, namely the days of the week, is used as a case study.


Presently, the project entered its second phase, i.e. on the one hand the creation of a morphological analyser (including word tokeniser and part-of-speech tagger), a lemmatiser, a syntactic parser, and a system for markup, and on the other hand the basic design of the package (interfaces between the user and the 'black box' (= relational database plus corpus), the design of the AI and Fuzzy Set elements, etc.). It is expected that the first results will be available on the Internet rather soon.


The Laurence Urdang Award has been acknowledged in written documents, and the recipient expresses his sincere gratitude to the Sponsor, Laurence Urdang, and the LUA Selection Panel.


Contributed by

Gilles-Maurice de Schryver, 2000 LUA recipient

Ghent University, Belgium


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The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

— Chinese proverb


Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.

— Walter Elliot


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Ka di 01 Mei 2001 Board ya Sesotho sa Leboa e thwetše Mtšna. Mogodi M.P. le Mna. Mphahlele M.C. bjalo ka bangwalapukuntšu mola Mna. Lepota B. a thwetšwe bjalo ka mongwalapukuntšu wa lebakanyana.


Bangwalapukuntšu ba, ba ile ba tsenela tlhahlo ya mošomo yeo e bego e sepedišwa le go laolwa ke Mna. Gilles-Maurice de Schryver, mme ka yona nako yeo le sešego sa mantšu se be se le gare se godišwa. Tlhahlo e sepetše ka thelelo le lebelo ka ge ka morago ga beke tše pedi go be go šetše go gatišwa pukuntšu ya mathomo yeo e nago le mantšu a 442. Ka nako ya ge go swerwe 6th International Conference of the African Association for Lexicography kua go la Pietersburg, pukuntšu ya bobedi ya mantšu a 1048 e ile ya gatišwa le go fiwa batho.


Go šomišwa lenaneo la Onoma go ngwala pukuntšu ye, mme le tloga le  nolofatša mošomo le go o sepetša ka lebelwana ka ge go fihla lebakeng le pukuntšu e swere mantšu a 5000. Go dira gore mošomo o be boleta, o arolwa ka mafapha a go fapanafapana ao go ona Mtšna. Mogodi a bago le a gagwe mola Mna. Mphahlele le yena a e ba le a gagwe. Go dira ka tsela ye ba leka go thibela gore mafelelong ba se tle ba hwetša lentšu le tee le filwe ditlhalošo tše pedi, ka ge ba le mafelong a go fapana.

Mošomo wa go ngwala mantšu a maswa le go fa ditlhalošo o sa emišitšwe ka gonnyane ga bjale, lebaka ke gore go swaraganwe le go swaya wo o šetšego o dirilwe go bona gore o hlwekile ebile o a kgotsofatša. Maikemišetšo a magolo ka go dira se ke gore, Yuniti e gopotše go ntšha kgatišo ya pukuntšu ya mantšu a 5000, mme e išwe setšhabeng (bao e lego baboledi ba Sesotho sa Leboa) se e lekole se fe dikakanyo tša sona.


Contributed by

Paulinah Mogodi, Editor Sepedi NLU, Branch Office (Pretoria)


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7th International Afrilex conference, Grahamstown, 8-10 July 2002

All members are once again cordially invited to attend the 7th International Conference of AFRILEX.


The Second Circular, dated 24 January 2002, is being sent out to the members concurrently with this Newsletter. We urge members to study that circular carefully since it contains important and detailed information.


Mr. G-M de Schryver, who is centralising the incoming abstracts, reports that abstracts are being submitted from all corners of the world, including strong proposals from Asia, Europe, and of course Africa. The topics too are wide-ranging, with numerous interesting suggestions revolving around the main conference theme ‘Culture and Dictionaries’.


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Included in the First Circular regarding the 7th International Conference, dated 10 August 2001, members were informed of their membership status with the Association. Members who were paid-up for 2001 should have received a copy of the journal Lexikos 11 free of charge.


Please ensure that you regularly pay your membership fees. A personalised statement reflecting each member’s current membership status with the Association is included with the Second Circular, dated 24 January 2002.


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·        Onthou: ‘n Glimlag het nie vertaling nodig nie.

·        Lag is die medisyne wat niks kos nie en baie vermag.

·        Humor spuit ‘n dik stroom goeie, sappige sous deur jou liggaam.

·        Lag meer vir jouself en jou foute en wees minder ernstig.

·        Humor maak die swaar draggliker.

·        Saamlag skep geleenthied vir dieper deel.

·        Lag vir jou komiese gebreke en onbeholpenheid.

·        Lag saam met ander; dit bou vriendskappe oor grense heen.


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Kernerman Publishing and K Dictionaries recently announced the establishment of The Kernerman Dictionary Fund. The fund will award grants with the aim of promoting research in lexicography for the benefit of dictionary users worldwide.


In the first 3-year period (2002-2004) the fund will make available the sum of US$ 9,000. The administration of grants will be carried out by the associations for lexicography in Europe, Asia and Africa (EURALEX, ASIALEX and AFRILEX). Each association will appoint an Assessment Committee consisting of its president and one or two officers, who will review applications.


Three grants will be awarded annually by each Committee. The maximum sum of each grant is $1,000, but a grant may be renewed fully or partially on the submission of a satisfactory report at the end of year one or year two. When not utilized, money may be held over for the following year. The grants are open to candidates anywhere in the world, who may apply to any of the three committees.


Applicants should submit a 500-word outline of their proposal, which, if accepted, will be published in Kernerman Dictionary News. Upon completion of the project, a 2,000-word summary will be published in KDN. Publication of the full text is left to the discretion of the author, but the Fund requests that it be sent a copy of any ensuing publications.

Grants will be awarded in five areas of lexicography during the first 3-year period:


1 The design of dictionaries for language learners at the elementary and intermediate levels, and the study of dictionary-using behaviour at these levels

Lower-lever English learners (those in primary, junior high- and high-schools) constitute the vast majority of foreign language learners and dictionary users. But they are a neglected majority, since most research in foreign-language-learning lexicography is focused on university and college students. Research in this area at the tertiary level will not qualify for a grant during the first 3-year period.


2         Specialized corpora for non-native learners of English

Despite recent progress in the design and use of foreign learner corpora, most learner dictionaries continue to be based on general language corpora, which in certain respects do not meet the interests and needs of language learners. Basing learner dictionaries on corpora that reflect more closely the vocabulary needs of learners at various levels would enhance pedagogical lexicography, and make modern learner dictionaries more user-friendly and relevant.


3         The function of lexicography in the process of vocabulary acquisition

Where vocabulary means new words and phrases, as well as new meanings of familiar words and phrases, and acquisition means storing in the reader’s long-term memory, the function of the learner’s dictionary in vocabulary acquisition takes on an important dimension. Studies are needed not simply of how the dictionary helps the learner understand new meanings and uses, but also of how it facilitates their retention in the long-term memory. How can dictionaries assist the learner to remember what has been understood?


4         Trilingual lexicography

A growing number of language learners are already bilingual. These include members of such groups as national and ethnic minorities, people who speak the language of their rulers, refugees, emigrants, foreign students, transient workers and their families, and numerous others who may be on the move. When these people learn and use English as the global lingua franca, or any other new language, they become trilingual. Though the theory and design of trilingual dictionaries is still in its infancy, it may now be more viable, with the development of electronic lexicography.


5        Lexicographic programs concerning language preservation and revival

The genuine fears of the extinction of smaller languages in the face of globalization together with the dissemination of a few favoured languages are stimulating efforts to preserve them, or even to revive them in cases where the number of speakers has declined almost to the vanishing point. Dictionaries, whether historical, monolingual, bilingual or descriptive, can clearly help in the preservation and revival of endangered languages. The construction of oral and written corpora is required for such languages, and also critical research into available material.


* * *


These are general guidelines, and the Committees may use their own discretion in selecting awardees for innovative research in other areas. The Committees are independent, and their decisions are final.


At the end of the first 3-year period the administration and allocation of the Fund will be reconsidered, the number and structure of the Assessment Committees may be modified, the Committees may be combined, and the topic areas and sums awarded may be revised.


Lionel Kernerman

Kernerman Publishing Ltd.

46 Hagolan St.

Tel Aviv 69361


Tel. + 972 3 649 2715

Fax + 972 3 649 3712


The AFRILEX Board will inform members in due time as to the exact procedures; the text above should thus be considered as a first announcement.


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The intricacies of the English language

This little treatise on the lovely English language we share, is only for the brave. It was passed on by a linguist, unfortunately the original author is unknown. Peruse at your leisure, English lovers.


Reasons why the English language is so hard to learn:

* The bandage was wound around the wound.

*  The farm was used to produce produce.

*  The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

*  We must polish the Polish furniture.

*  He could lead if he would get the lead out.

*  The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

*  Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

*  A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

*  When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

*  I did not object to the object.

*  The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

*  There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

*  They were too close to the door to close it.

*  The buck does funny things when the does are present.

*  A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

*  To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

*  The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

*  After a number of injections my jaw got number.

*  Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

*  I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

*  How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?




Let's face it – English is a crazy language:

*  There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

*  English muffins weren't invented in England nor French fries in France.

*  Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.




We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find:

*  quicksand can work slowly,

*  boxing rings are square, and

*  a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

*  And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?

*  If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth?

*  One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese?

*  One index, 2 indices?

*  Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend.

*  If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

*  If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?

*  If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?




Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane:

*  In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?

*  Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?

*  Have noses that run and feet that smell?

*  How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

*  You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

*  English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't a race at all).

*  That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.


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New Zealand Society of Translators & Interpreters

Auckland, New Zealand

1-3 June 2002.

Ethics is widely acknowledged as an essential element in any professional human interaction. In the context of language difference, culture difference and difference in power, the role of ethics become particularly pivotal. Our ethics standards are the glue which not only holds our profession together but also provides credibility to the public.


The conference seeks to highlight the nature of work for professional translators and interpreters today - in a context of today’s everchanging world. The sheer range and diversity of this will guarantee a rewarding and interesting conference.


Submissions of papers are now being accepted. Please direct all submissions, queries and other correspondence to the National Secretary via e-mail at


The organising Committee will publish the proceedings of the conference during or immediately after the conference. Further details regarding the conference programme, venue and possible accommodation can be obtained from the organisers at the above-mentioned e-mail address.


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There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience.

— French proverb


A good conscience is a continual Christmas.

— Benjamin Franklin


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There is an online terminology discussion bulletin board available at the following web site:


The bulletin board is sponsored by the Localization Industry Standards Association. It is intended to foster dialogue about managing terminology in the business environment. Anyone can participate by submitting topics or responding to existing topics.


Participation in this bulletin board will make it an effective medium for sharing expertise about managing terminology. Please bookmark it and use it to ask questions, make contacts, or share information about terminology management.


More information on this bulletin board is available from: Kara Warburton, IBM terminologist

IBM terminology database:

IBM intranet Terminology Website:

IBM Internet Terminology Website:


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Write injuries in sand, kindnesses in marble.

— French Proverb


You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson


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12-13 April 2002, Maternushaus Conference Centre, Kardinal-Frings-Strasse 1-3, Cologne

(German is the only official language of this symposium. No interpreting facilities will be provided.)

At two year intervals the German Terminology Society, DTT e.V., holds a major symposium dealing with various aspects of terminology. The eighth symposium organised by DTT e.V. has as its title ‘eTerminology – Professionelle’.


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You may find the worst enemy or best friend in yourself.

— English Proverb


Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.

— Henry David Thoreau


The best mirror is a friend’s eye.

— Gaelic Proverb


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PROPOSED TAMA Conference 2002 in South Africa


1.                            BACKGROUND

Dr. Mariëtta Alberts attended a TAMA Conference from 31 January to 2 February 2001 in Antwerp, Belgium.


TAMA stands for Technology for Advanced Mobile Applications. The international organisers of TAMA requested the National Language Service to present the next TAMA meeting in South Africa. It was decided that more emphasis will be devoted to the South African needs regarding terminology management and that the abbreviation TAMA could stand for Terminology in Advanced Management Applications. It was also suggested that training would form part of the conference. It would therefore be advertised as a training-cum-conference event.


There are many conferences on terminology and related topics in general. TAMA has always been very exclusive: it focuses on terminology management and computer applications, such as mobile computing.


The international TAMA conference will also be devoted to training in various aspects of terminology management. Trainers from abroad are willing to participate and their expenses will probably be taken care of by UNESCO.


It was suggested to have the TAMA Conference during the South African Spring and to choose a venue that would depict the African Culture. The African Association for Lexicography (AFRILEX) indicated that it would like to co-organise the event.


The delegates will be people who have travelled the world to all the various venues where TAMA has been presented. They are used to everything the developed world can offer them because they are mainly interested in high technology and research. By coming to South Africa they would like to experience Africa. We would like to offer them both an African experience and to show that South Africa is a developed country with an abundance of scientific and technological knowledge.


Proposed Conference Theme:

Terminology in the Era of Globalisation


Proposed Conference Date:

7 – 11 October 2002


Proposed Conference Venue:

The Pelindaba Conference & Banqueting Centre at the Misty Hills Country Hotel, Krugersdorp, Gauteng, RSA


Conference Organisers:

Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (DACST) (Terminology Co-ordination Section, National Language Service and Events Management) and AFRILEX


2.                            TERMINOLOGY TRAINING

2.1           Background

Dr. Christian Galinski, President of TermNet and the TAMA organisers in Austria agreed to supply terminology training before the TAMA Conference. This is not a usual feature at TAMA Conferences.


2.2   Trainers

Trainers from all over the world (e.g. Prof. Dr. Sue-Ellen Wright, Kent State University, USA; Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dirk Schmitz, DEUTERM, Germany; Prof. Dr. Frieda Steurs, Lessius Hogeschool, Belgium; Dr. Gerhard Budin, University of Vienna, Austria; Dr. Gabriele Sauberer of Infoterm) indicated that they are willing to present terminology training.


2.3   Trainees

The people who would be interested in terminology training are:

·     Terminologists from the National Language Service

·     Memebers of AFRILEX

·     Members of the following PANSALB structures:

o                                  National Language Bodies (14 units)

o                                  National Lexicography Units (11 units)

o                                  Provincial Language Committees (9 units)

·     Collaborators on terminology projects


Proposed Training Theme:

Terminology Management in a Multilingual Global Society


Proposed Training Date:

Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 October 2002


Proposed Training Venue:

Prof. Danie Prinsloo, chairperson of AFRILEX, indicated that the training could be presented at the University of Pretoria



3.1           Background

At the pre-Conference workshop(s) new research regarding terminology-related matters could be presented and discussed.


3.2           Interested parties

The value of an international conference is that people from abroad can share their research and inventions with their South African counterparts and the (South) African researchers, academics and language practitioners can share the (South) African perspective.


There is ongoing research abroad on aspects like the dissemination of terminological information, mobile access to terminological databanks, etc. In South Africa there is ongoing research on aspects like artificial intelligence, speech recognition, machine translation, etc. Research teams of various South African universities and tertiary institutions will be interested to share their knowledge and experience during the pre-Conference workshop.



Various exhibitors can be invited to exhibit hardware and software related to terminology work and the language profession.


For more information regarding TAMA 2002, please contact:

Xolile Mfaxa: (012) 337 8345


Compiled by

Dr. Mariëtta Alberts, Head: Systems Development & Research, NLS, DACST


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Discretion is knowing how to hide that which we cannot remedy.

— Spanish Proverb


The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour.

— Japanese Proverb


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As is well-known to most members of the Association, AFRILEX has had a place in cyberspace since March 1998. In his 1997-1998 chairperson’s report, RH Gouws welcomed this as follows:


“One of the exciting developments in AFRILEX was the establishment of our own website. Our organiser, Prof. Danie Prinsloo did all the necessary work to promote AFRILEX as a prominent milestone on the information highway. The website is there to be used. Please access it to obtain all the AFRILEX information you need.” (29 June 1998)


It seems as if ‘webmaster’ belongs to the ‘Organiser’ portfolio, as Mr. G-M de Schryver undertook to supplement the AFRILEX web site with documents long-thought lost, and does his utmost to keep the site up to date. Especially for the new members, a visit to the ‘cool’ AFRILEX web site is highly recommended:

See you all on the Internet!


— Compiled by M Alberts, Registrar



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