Scrabble (Tifinagh). Behance. Photo by Madghis Madi
Scrabble (Tifinagh). Behance. Photo by Madghis Madi

Stemmen van Afrika wins LOT Popularisation Prize 2024

Stemmen van Afrika (English: Voices of Africa), a project that began as a collaboration between Nijmegen and Leiden, won the LOT Popularisation Prize this month. This prize is awarded every year by the Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics to a science communication project in the field of linguistics. The jury praised the broad reach of the website and the creative formats such as the course material and the escape game, which allow people of all ages to learn more about African languages in a playful way.

Everyone knows the Big Five - the five animal species every safari-goer must have seen - but few people can name five African languages, while there are two thousand of them. The ambition of the Stemmen van Afrika project is to introduce more people to the abundance of African languages. The project was launched in 2013 by professors Pieter Muysken (Linguistics, Radboud University) and Maarten Mous (African Studies, Leiden University), with support from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Mark Dingemanse (Centre for Language Studies) was involved from the beginning.

Dingemanse: "It is great to get this recognition for the project as a team. The website has always been well-visited, but in recent years we have focused specifically on reaching other groups such as teenagers and primary school pupils. To do so, we came up with new concepts, which we tested at secondary schools with the help of our colleague (and Teacher in Residence at Radboud University) Cefas van Rossem. It is particularly great to see these innovations now rewarded with such a wonderful prize."

The project's roots have expanded from Nijmegen and Leiden over the years to include linguists and experts from Ghent University and Utrecht University, making Stemmen van Afrika a good example of collaboration in public communication for linguists. The prize, a sum of 2,500 euros, will be used by the team to work on further innovation. Among other things, Stemmen van Afrika plans to offer language profiles: information on the African, Surinamese and Dutch Caribbean languages most commonly spoken in the Netherlands.

Photo: Scrabble (Tifinagh). Behance. Photo by Madghis Madi. Source

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