DSAE Publications

Note: Some of these titles have since been updated independently of the DSAE.


Dictionary of South African English (online)

The complete A Dictionary of South African English on Historical Principles (see print edition below) is now available online at dsae.co.za, as a pilot edition with free access.


Oxford South African Concise Dictionary (2nd ed.)

(Revision of South African Concise Oxford Dictionary)

Oxford University Press, 2010. Edited by the Dictionary Unit for South African English. ISBN-10: 0195982185; ISBN-13: 9780195982183
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With its exceptional clarity, accuracy, and ease of use, this second edition of the South African Concise Oxford Dictionary is the acknowledged authority on South African and general English for study, professional use, and at home. It is the most up-to-date South African English dictionary available, giving particular support on many questions of usage and grammar, and now containing a unique encyclopedic reference section.

Key features:

  • Exceptional coverage including new loan words (jihadi), words from IT (keylogger), medicine (HAART), and local fauna and flora (couta)
  • The most up-to-date South African and general English dictionary so you don't have to wonder what a flash mob or a happy letter is
  • Intriguing word histories give you insight into how "a little worm" came to mean "bright red" (see vermilion)
  • Thousands of word origins, reflecting the sources of South African and World English
  • The best all-round reference for high school and university students, libraries and enquiring users of English


South African Concise Oxford Dictionary

Oxford University Press, 2002. Edited by Kathryn Kavanagh, Dorothea Mantzel, Tim van Niekerk, Jill Wolvaardt and Madeleine Wright. ISBN 0 19 571804

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The South African Concise Oxford Dictionary is a modern dictionary for South Africa. It is based on the 10th edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary, customised for the South African public. In addition to a broad range of World English words, and literary, technical and scientific terms, it includes over 1 500 items of South African English. Common words such as howzit, takkie and lekker, and informal expressions such as make a plan, hold thumbs and pick up stompies, are to be found in the dictionary. So too are names of southern African peoples and languages (Venda, Xitsonga), local plants and animals (buchu, toktokkie, dorper), acronyms (ANC, NEPAD, PE), dated and historical terms (Book of Life, black spot, Mfecane), local food (monkeygland, bobotie, morogo), traditional culture (amakhosi, inyanga, hlonipha), music and the arts (goema, kwaito), and many more.

From very early days English has absorbed vocabulary from the many languages throughout the world with which it has had contact. In South African English words from Afrikaans and African languages are regularly used in spoken and written contexts without gloss or explanation and it is not always easy to decide whether they have been assimilated or not. The South African Concise Oxford Dictionary includes words which have been used in South African English for over a hundred years, often much longer, including stoep, erf, veld, muti and bonsella, as well as more recent adoptions such as bosberaad, ubuntu, lekgotla and makoti, whose position in the language is less firmly established.


A Dictionary of South African English on Historical Principles

Oxford University Press, 1996. Edited by Penny Silva, Wendy Dore, Dorothea Mantzel, Colin Muller and Madeleine Wright. ISBN 0 19 863153 7
This title, which is out of print, is now available online at dsae.co.za.

The result of the most extensive and detailed research ever undertaken into the history of English in South Africa, A Dictionary of South African English on Historical Principles documents the English language as it has developed within all of the country’s communities. Coverage extends from the sixteenth century up to 1995, providing fascinating information about South African history, as well as revealing the unique character of the country’s multilingual and multicultural society.

This authoritative historical record features 47 000 citations illustrating 5 000 entries which cover all forms of the written word, historical and contemporary, as well as the spoken word of broadcasting and everyday conversation.

The entries include words derived from the many languages which have influenced English in South Africa, namely Dutch, Afrikaans, and the Malayo-Indonesian, Indian, Khoisan, Nguni and Sotho languages. Many everyday words are defined, such as indaba, bakkie, robot and brinjal.

The language of the townships is featured (mellow yellow, spaza and stokvel) as well as local music vocabulary (kwela, mbaqanga and sakkie-sakkie), mining terms (cocopan, cheesa-stick, mine-dump and blue-ground), and entries on the official language of apartheid such as group areas, endorse out and immorality.

Read the Preface.


Francolin Illustrated School Dictionary for Southern Africa

Maskew Miller Longman, 2001 second edition (first edition Francolin Publishers, 1997). Edited by Dorothea Mantzel and Bernd Schulz. ISBN 1 86859 015 1
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The Francolin Illustrated School Dictionary for Southern Africa was developed especially for senior primary pupils in southern Africa for whom English is an additional language and the language of learning. The lexicographers worked closely with several English second language consultants during the writing process, and trial material of the dictionary was piloted in six provinces amongst approximately 600 pupils. Some key features include the following:

  • About 3 500 entries
  • Clear definitions take into account the language abilities of the target users
  • All words used in the definitions and example sentences have their own entries (i.e. a limited defining vocabulary)
  • Almost 5 000 example sentences show how the words are used in context
  • More than 800 key terms from science, social studies and other subjects are included
  • South African English words and meanings are explained
  • Parts of speech, irregular plurals, verb forms and comparative and superlative forms are given
  • Easy-to-follow pronunciation guidance is given
  • More than 300 drawings clarify and reinforce meaning
  • Contains exercises for developing and enhancing dictionary skills
  • Appendices include useful lists such as days of the week, months of the year, numbers, and shapes.


Dictionary Skills Workbook

Maskew Miller Longman, 2002 (first edition Francolin Publishers, 1999). By Bernd Schulz and Dorothea Mantzel. ISBN 0 636 04850 0
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This workbook is designed to be used by learners with the Francolin Illustrated School Dictionary. All the exercises have been carefully planned to:

  • help learners become familiar with the contents of the dictionary
  • develop general dictionary and reference skills
  • teach learners basic English spelling and grammar rules


A Dictionary of South African English

Oxford University Press, four editions, 1978–1991. By Jean Branford. ISBN 0 19 570595 5
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First published in 1978, Jean Branford’s dictionary was written in the hope that it would both instruct and delight. Now in its 4th edition, it contains many South African English words and definitions supported by lively quotations illustrating their use. For these Dr Branford drew extensively on the research which she and Prof. William Branford had been carrying out for a number of years. The book’s 412 pages illustrate the richness and diversity of South African English and have certainly informed and entertained many a reader since its publication.

Dr Branford’s research was also the foundation of the larger Dictionary of South African English on Historical Principles published for the DSAE by Oxford University Press in 1996.


South African Pocket Oxford Dictionary

Oxford University Press, 3rd edition, 2002 (First and second editions edited by WRG Branford). ISBN 0 19 578058 2
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Prof. William Branford first adapted the Pocket Oxford Dictionary for South Africa in 1987. The second edition, published in 1994, reflected the increasingly rapid expansion of World English vocabulary and also changes in South Africa and its languages in the early 1990s. The 3rd edition of 2002 was not prepared by Prof. Branford but some of his text remains.

Last Modified: Mon, 22 Jun 2020 12:02:48 SAST