Friday, 9 October 2009

On a new m-novel

A correspondent writes from South Africa's Shuttleworth Foundation to tell me about the world's first m-novel written in English and isiXhosa (an indigenous South African language). It's a teen mystery story set in Cape Town about four graffiti writing friends. You can read it (still evolving) at Kontax on your PC or a WAP-enabled phone.

The Foundation believes that m-novels have the potential to be big in Africa and wants to explore this space through a project they're calling m4Lit. It's planning to conduct research with 50 teens in Cape Town to understand their experience of the m-novel within a broader literacy context. Post-project papers are planned too. The comments from users so far are really interesting.

I'd come across m-novels and short stories in Japan, China, India, and a few other places, when I was writing Txtng: the Gr8 Db8, but I'd not encountered it in Africa, and certainly not involving a language like Xhosa. Given the remarkable growth of mobile phones in Africa, where they foster communication in areas which don't have good computer connections, I wouldn't be surprised if the genre catches on. It could be a useful additional strategy for involving young people in community languages that are endangered.

4 comments:

tytania said...

sorry, but what does "m" stand for?

DC said...

mobile

Raifʻhār Doremítzwr said...

Tytania, you can read more about them on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-novel

Laine Cole said...

Interesting! As a South African the last few years have been exciting to witness: a blending of langauges, especially English, Xhose, Zulu and Afrikaans reflect the fading lines of Apartheid amongst the younger generations. This must lend itself beautifully to original m-stories - a real language/technology mashup.