“To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world,” reads an old Cantonese adage.
Connie (@ShonaGirl_), a young Zimbabwean fundraiser for non-profit organisations and social entrepreneur, based in South Africa, seemed to have this in mind when she took to Twitter to teach people Bantu languages, creating an account with the handle @BantuSemantics .
“The idea for the account evolved from what I did on Twitter for a couple of months in 2013, termed #ShonaSemantics, when I gave in to the pressure of people always asking me to teach them Shona whenever they found out I spoke Shona”, said Connie.
“I was also inspired by my partner, Kabelo as well as my good friend Nyakallo whose passion for (sharing) their own languages -Tswana and Sotho respectively- and (learning) mine are second to none.”
Following an overwhelming response to #ShonaSemantics, @BantuSemantics was born with the goal of building a community through sharing and celebrating Bantu languages.
@BantuSemantics averages 150 new followers each week and has become a point of reference for people with questions about different languages or cultural practices.
“I think all this is because @BantuSemantics is a community account – different people tweet from it, each bringing their own unique style, knowledge base and perspective. This has enabled the account to attract people across the social and geographical spectrum.”
Connie administers the account then invites different people to tweet from it, usually a different person representing a different Bantu language each week.
So far, Shona, Chewa, Swahili, Xhosa Venda, Pedi , Tswana and Ndebele have been covered under @BantuSemantics.
Bantu languages, according to Brittanica.com, is a group of some 500 languages belonging to the Bantoid subgroup of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family, spoken in a very large area, from southern Cameroon to Kenya and to the southernmost tip of the continent.
@BantuSemantics is not the only account helping people teach and learn new languages.
There is @RosettaStone which offers tips, information and encouragement to help people get started learning new languages every day, then @aboutworldlangs which aims to provide “quality information, interesting tips, and cultural awareness about every language under the sun.”