Paradoxically, finding African language dictionaries in South Africa can be a bit challenging, although the selection is improving. You may be able to find some African language dictionaries at you local bookstore, but if you get stuck, we recommend the South African National Lexicography Units as a one-stop resource for dictionaries in all the 11 official languages.
To make things a little easy for you, we have compiled a list of dictionaries that we know of. The list is by no means exhaustive, so if you know of any good dictionaries that we should include in the list, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Multilingual Dictionary in all 11 official languages
The South African Multingual Dictionary by Pharos is great reference to learn the basic vocabulary for any of South Africa’s 11 official languages. We love this dictionary. It is comprehensive and is a great resource to see translations in the 11 official languages at a glance.
This Multilingual Illustrated Dictionary by Pharos is great to learn isiZulu, Sesotho, isiXhosa, Setswana, English, Afrikaans or Sepedi. The illustrations are useful to help you remember. Great for visual learners and children.
The Oxford English-IsiXhosa School dictionary is a wonderful resource for anyone learning isiXhosa. It contains sample sentences to help you get to grips with how words are used, and for sentence construction. The best thing about this dictionary is that it also contains a short section on grammar, which is invaluable if you’re trying to teach yourself the language.
You may also want to try the isiXhosa Oxford living dictionaries resource, which is an awesome free online resource for anyone learning isiXhosa.
Oxford has a bilingual School dictionary which you may be able to find in bookstores. You may also like to try this English-Zulu dictionary developed in South Africa:
The Sesotho sa Leboa Oxford School dictionary is a wonderful resource for anyone learning Northern Sotho. It contains sample sentences to help you get to grips with how words are used, and it also contains a mini-grammar section, which is incredibly useful. Perfect for self-study.
You may also like to try the Northern Sotho Oxford living dictionary. This is an awesome free online resource for anyone learning Sepedi.
Try this official Sesotho dictionary from the South African National Lexicography Units.
Shuters Compact Setswana Dictionary is exactly that: compact and easy-to-use. It contains handy phrases for everyday use, as well as a brief guide to Setswana grammar. Useful if you would like to keep your dictionary handy.
The Setswana Oxford living dictionaries resources also has an awesome free online resource for anyone learning Setswana.
Try this official Siswati-English dictionary from the South African National Lexicography Unit.
Try the official Tshivenda-English dictionary from the South African National Lexicography Unit.
Try this official Xitsinga-English dictionary from the South African National Lexicography Unit.
You may also want to take a look at xitsonga.org for dictionary, translation and other learning tools.
Remember to let us know which dictionaries you like best by emailing us at email@example.com.