WOTD: Mtanthauziramawu

Chichewa word of the day: 1.mtanthauziramawu\mi-; 2.dikishonale\ma- (Chingerezi); 

Meaning: Dictionary

Sorry I haven’t posted a word of the day or about the kids for a while. So this is two birds with one stone!

I mentioned in my previous post that the Area 11 Breakfast Club was lucky enough to be awarded funding from FOMA and that some of the funds have been used to purchase dictionaries for the kids.

Well, on Saturday after breakfast, we used the Chichewa Dictionaries for the first time! “First time” is more poignant that it sounds because for the kids, it really was their first time to use a dictionary, ever. Using a calculator, reading a map and knowing where most countries are*… these are example of skills which we “first-worlders” take for granted because it was an integral part of our education.

*My own night-guard still thinks I’m Japanese (Ok, my German first name doesn’t help!). Because to him, there are only JICA volunteers but no Chinese ones that he’s seen or heard of in Malawi. Just to really push this point home, when we bought a new combination padlock for our outside storage room and I told him the combination so he and others can access it for tools, he looked at me blankly. Because he had never seen a padlock with no key!

Anyway, I explained the 2 (Chichewa to English and English to Chichewa) sections of the dictionary and the objective of the exercise (find the word on the whiteboard and write down the Chichewa or English meaning), at least twice. Some of the kids understood it, which was great. “It” being how the dictionary is sorted in alphabetical order. First by the first letter, then second etc. But some kids, as I discovered mid-way through the exercise, did not. They were just turning every page in search of the word!

This turned out to be a much more difficult (and fun) exercise than I expected. I was left very exhausted to be honest but will definitely do it again.

Thank you to Dr Steven Paas, the author of the dictionary, for allowing us to participate in the Free Distribution Programme, which is normally reserved for much bigger quantities and, of course, for writing the dictionary in the first place!

Class time!

Class time!



Categories: Malawi, Volunteering, VSO | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “WOTD: Mtanthauziramawu

  1. Pingback: 25 Letters in the Alphabet? | Herman is Out of the Office

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