The translatability of English academic discourse into isiZulu with reference to the discourse of mathematics.
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This research investigates the translatability of English Academic Discourse into isiZulu with specific reference to the discourse of Mathematics. The focus is on the translation processes and strategies used in the translations to maintain the core meaning of concepts. The reason for the research is that African-language speaking learners experience problems in understanding and using crucial academic concepts in English and the language that contextualizes them. The research thus analyses translated texts from the mathematics and mathematical literacy learning areas selected from a Multilingual Teachers’ Resource Book written for learners at the GET Level (Grade 7-9) in order to explore the process of translation by examining the isiZulu translated texts (target texts) of English source texts, and their subsequent back-translations. The main focus is on the quality of the translation and the strategies translators use in order to retain the core meaning of the original text, especially when languages are non-cognate. The study found that although formal equivalence between non-cognate languages is difficult to achieve, functional or near-equivalence is not always appropriate either, especially in specialized discourses of a scientific or technical nature. The solution lies in building up the technical discourse in the African Languages. This research also explores possible limitations in the translator-training offered for bilingual translators of English and isiZulu and leads to recommendations as to what the translator-training should focus on in the long term. Findings from this research should contribute to the language policy debate on isiZulu as a viable medium of instruction as well as to the process of terminology development.