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Synonymy in the translation equivalent paradigms of a standard translation dictionary

Phillip Adriaan Louw

Abstract


The norm in current canonical translation dictionaries with Afrikaans and English as the treated language pair is an undiscriminated grouping of partially synonymous translation equivalents. These are separated by commas as sole markers of synonymy. Lexicographers should reject this practice and embrace the view that absolute synonyms are just as rare as absolute equivalents. In most cases members of a target language synonym paradigm will be partial synonyms demanding some form of contextual guidance in order to distinguish them from other equivalents in the paradigm.

This article will focus on the motivation for the indication of partial target language synonymy. Two particular motivations will be discussed, as well as ways in which equivalent discrimination can be implemented.

The first motivation arises from a group of problematic phenomena that effect contextual divergence between the source and target language. Stylistic and register divergence should necessitate contextual guidance. Lexicographical labels are the most frequently used discriminators, but in South African dictionaries they are applied too sparingly and inconsistently. Other possible discriminators will also be discussed.

The most problematic motivation for the indication of partial synonymy is however different equivalents for various usages of a lemma. Ways in which equivalent discrimination can be implemented in these cases, will be discussed in detail.

Lastly, it will be shown that without a new, more effective method of indicating and ordering target language synonyms, none of the major changes that are pleaded for, will bear fruit.

Keywords: absolute synonymy; contextual guidance; equivalent discrimination; lexicographic labels; partial synonymy; polysemy; senses; standard translation dictionary; synonymy; target language synonyms; target language synonym paradigm; translation equivalent paradigm; usages of the lemma




http://dx.doi.org/10.5788/8-1-952
AJOL African Journals Online