Professor Langa Khumalo

Bio of Professor Langa Khumalo


Professor Langa Khumalo is the Director of the South African Center for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR), which is a national research infrastructure funded by the Department of Science and Innovation. He is the former Director of the Language Planning and Development Office at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), where he led the effort to develop African languages as languages of research, innovation, teaching and learning in Higher Education through an intellectualization programme that saw the development of human language technologies and advances in machine learning, and other digital solutions. He holds a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Oslo (Norway), an MPhil in Linguistics from Cambridge University (UK), and a Certificate in Corpus Linguistics from The Tuscan Word Centre in Italy. He also completed an Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme (OSLP) at the Saïd Business School at Oxford University (UK) and is a member of the Oxford Business Alumni Network. He is the current Chair and Coordinator of the Africa Union (AU) IsiZulu Language Commission. He is an expert in Corpus Linguistics and Computational Solutions for the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN), which is the Secretariat of the AU. He is a Fellow of the Cambridge Commonwealth Society (FCCS), a former Language Champion in the Oxford Global Languages program (OGL) for Oxford University Press (UK), a member of the Scientific Board of the Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society (CASAS, University of the Western Cape) and the current President of the African Association for Lexicography (AFRILEX). He served as a member of the Language Policy Review Working Group appointed by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). He is an award-winning author in Intelligent Text Processing and Computational Linguistics. He is a recipient of the Staff Excellence Award (2018) for Excellence in Teaching at UKZN. He has been an invited speaker and keynote speaker at various local and international conferences and colloquia.

Abstract To be presented

Challenging the English hegemony: Enhancing multilingualism in Digital Humanities.

The linguistic hegemony of the English language presents challenges to the global community that is largely multilingual. The linguistic hegemony of the English language is enabled by the perception that English serves as the lingua franca for education, trade, and employment, and is an essential skill for anyone wanting to succeed professionally or academically in the 21st century. The idea that English offers such enormous opportunities presents a challenge to other languages, cultures, and identities. Curiously, this is one of the main subjects in the study of humanities and social sciences. This is despite the UNESCO declaration (1953) that states that it is axiomatic that the best medium for learning and teaching is the mother tongue. I argue here that the exclusion of other languages in the education system, other than English, is some form of epistemic violence. The field of Digital Humanities (henceforth DH) is expanding across the globe. I demonstrate in this paper that DH is a growing scholarship that provides a bridge between the traditional practices of research, and technology driven research to scholars straddling quintessential humanities and social sciences approaches on the one hand, and modern digital methodologies, tools, and frameworks on the other, to support them in novel avenues of enquiry. DH is therefore a growing scholarship that is spurred by advances in computing and digital spheres. At the heart of DH discourse is inclusivity, diversity, and cultural sensitivity. These principles are necessary to achieve collaboration that is so essential to DH. However, there still exist vestiges of English bias as noted in (Fiormonte, 2015) “[…] arguments in favor of English as the lingua franca, and the misrepresentation of knowledge production and geopolitical imbalance […] continue to thrive.” I will argue that germane in the DH scholarship is a need to embrace multilingualism and diversity of cultures and identities. I will finally argue that a multilingual DH require the incorporation of epistemic perspectives, knowledge, and thinking from the Global South into the growing global knowledge economy from which everyone draws.