A copulative decision tree as a writing tool for Sepedi

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 40, issue 1, 2020 , pages: 85–97
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2020.1733834
Author(s): Danie PrinslooDepartment of African Languages, South Africa, Theo BothmaDepartment of Information Science, South Africa


The copulative construction in Sepedi is very complex, as is evident from the detailed and lengthy discussions that occur in standard grammar reference works of Sepedi. This article proposes a decision tree format to guide users through binary or multiple choices at various levels to choose the correct options and eventually arrive at the correct copulative construction. After a brief introduction to writing tools, the complexity of copulative constructions in Sepedi is discussed in detail, illustrating this complexity by means of examples. Thereafter, the prototype decision tree structure is discussed, illustrating the visual presentation of the system through a number of screen captures. The system focuses on text production, i.e. someone who intends writing a text. It presupposes a very basic knowledge of the copulative. If the user is unsure about terminology or content, the option exists, at each node, to drill down and obtain more information, including example sentences. The system therefore provides information on demand, and does not overload the user with information that may either be known or that may not be required to solve the specific information need in context. A detailed usability study will be undertaken as future work.

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