Dictionaries and Orthography in Modern Africa
This paper considers the issues and options in creating orthographies for languages without alphabetic traditions. In particular, it looks at issues that face linguists and anthropologists in creating such orthographies for preliminary descriptive work on a language. It is often the case that these orthographies by linguistic outsiders later serve as the bases for literacy-aimed orthographies. Thus, the lexicographer is constrained not only to present the language accurately, but to not undermine indigenous literacy projects for that language. This paper looks at the particular case of devising an orthography for Beng. a Southern Mande language of Cote d'Ivoire, in order to illustrate the problems inherent in alphabetising an unfamiliar language.