The compilation of bilingual dictionaries between African languages in south Africa: the case of northern Sotho and Tshivenda

  • K Mashamaite


Bilingual dictionaries between South African languages have existed for more than three centuries (Smit 1996: 232). These dictionaries have English or Afrikaans as the source language and an African language as the target language. There has never been a case of the opposite except for bi-directional bilingual dictionaries. Still more, there seems to be no record of an attempt ever made to date to compile bilingual dictionaries between African languages. This scenario illustrates the trend and history of lexicographic practice in South Africa. It isevident from most lexicographic research and products such as the existing kinds of dictionaries that Africans were never considered to be the first target group of users or prospective beneficiaries of such lexicographic products. The absence of bilingual dictionaries between African languages again provides evidence of who the lexicographers were and which population groups they represented. To fill this void, a model called the hub-and-spoke is proposed in this paper for the compilation of such kind of dictionaries. The model has been chosen for its purported economy of use. Northern Sotho and Tshivenda are the African languages that will be used as examples in the application of the model. A purposive sampling technique will be used to select lexemes that will constitute the entry words which form the central list of the proposed dictionary. Keywords: bi-directional, central list, conceptual equivalence, entry words, hub-and-spoke model, lexemes, lexical item, lexical unit, lexicalisation status, pragmatic contrast, purposive sampling technique, source language, target language, variant status

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eISSN: 2224-0039
print ISSN: 1684-4904