South Africa's new African language dictionaries and their use for the African speech communities

  • J Klein


During the last 15 years, the lexicographic scene in South Africa changed drastically as many new dictionaries for the African languages were compiled. The different dictionary types and publication modes discussed in this article are: general dictionaries, restricted dictionaries, printed dictionaries, electronic dictionaries, online and cell phone dictionaries. Although there are different dictionary types, they all have three major uses for the speech communities. Dictionaries are useful tools for language documentation and standardization, as they try to cover and docu-ment the general vocabulary (general dictionaries) or the specialized vocabulary (technical diction-aries). They empower the language users because they help to improve communication by pro-viding users with the necessary vocabulary they need. In addition, dictionaries have a high sym-bolic value for a language. Having dictionaries, and especially technical, online or cell phone dic-tionaries, is the visible proof that a language is standardized and modern, and can be used in all domains of life. Keywords: lexicography, general dictionaries, restricted dictionaries, online dictionaries, cell phone dictionaries, language documentation, language standardization, empowerment, communication, psychologi-cal factor, sociolinguistics, language planning

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-0039
print ISSN: 1684-4904