There are more than fifteen million native speakers of Chichewa, or Chinyanja, in Malawi, and in parts of Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa; thus Chichewa is probably the most widely spoken African language across the regions of Southern and South-Central Africa, used extensively in the private and public spheres: in the family, schools, government, NGOs and media communications. This is the first authoritative, and most comprehensive dictionary of its kind, a notable scholarly endeavour, and with major practical applications. The dictionary grew from an ad-hoc missionary publication of Chichewa/English translations from the 1970s, but far exceeds the scope of any previous efforts to transcribe the Chichewa language, provide accurate English equivalents, and reach a popular audience. It is a 'live text', taking in native speakers' collections of Chichewa vocabulary, contemporary usage, as well as contributions from scholars in African languages; and it pays heed to the close interaction between Chichewa and English and how the languages influence one another when both are widely spoken. In Africa it aims to be the first popular Chichewa/English dictionary for all levels of language use; outside Africa, it is aimed at foreign visitors and workers dealing with the Chichewa languages in professional and tourist capacities, in government and NGO communities, the media, academia and in specialist fields such as medicine, information technology and the law.
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