Menan du Plessis

Stellenbosch University

Short Bio: 
My earliest tertiary studies were at the University of Cape Town, where I took courses in English language and literature, Anglophone and Francophone African literature, Xhosa, German and Italian, plus courses in Linguistics with John Coetzee. In 1983 I became the first tutor in the newly established Department of Linguistics at UCT, where I embarked on doctoral studies with a topic in Semantics under Roger Lass. These were difficult times in South Africa, and my active involvement in the democratic movement led to my temporary withdrawal from academia. With my health subsquently damaged, I focused for a time on raising my two daughters, but later resumed my postgraduate studies in Linguistics with a renewed focus on African languages, and received my PhD in Linguistics from UCT in 2009. I have a book forthcoming on Kora, which was the Khoekhoe language spoken by the original inhabitants of the early Cape and the Gariep. As part of the research for this book I worked with two last speakers of the language, having been enabled to undertake this critically urgent work thanks to a grant from the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP) at SOAS. I was a Visiting Professor in Linguistics at the University of Kentucky in 2015, and am currently a Research Associate in the Department of General Linguistics at Stellenbosch University. I have recently been awarded a grant from the Endangered Language Fund (ELF) at Yale University for a project to document the highly endangered Tjwao language (eastern Kalahari Khoe) of Zimbabwe.