Supplying syntactic information in a quadrilingual explanatory dictionary of chemistry (English, Afrikaans, Isizulu, Sepedi): a preliminary investigation

  • E Taljard
  • R Gauton


In response to a number of recent government publications on the promotion of science and technology training, the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (South African Academy for Science and Art) initiated the compilation of a multilingual explanatory dictionary for chemistry. The need for such a dictionary is especially urgent in learning environments where learners receive tuition through a medium other than their mother tongue. This is particularly relevant for learners whose mother tongue is an African language. Taking into account the target user's fragmented knowledge of the subject field and low second language competence, the planners decided that certain syntactic information should be specified for the isiZulu and Sepedi entries; specifically the part of speech to which a lemma belongs. This poses certain problems for the lexicographer, since the issue of word categorisation is, especially in Sepedi, an unresolved one. A second problem that presents itself to the lexicographer is the lexicographic convention which is used to indicate the word class to which a specific lemma belongs. Abbreviations referring to the parts of speech are normally used for this purpose. No standardised abbreviations for the different parts of speech exist in isiZulu or Sepedi. Principles for the formation of abbreviations have also not been formulated for the official orthographies of these languages. The only solution to this problem is to study existing abbreviations in order to abstract the principles of abbreviation formation. Only then can abbreviations indicating the parts of speech be formulated for use in the dictionary. Keywords: special field dictionary, chemistry, isizulu, sepedi, word categorisation, lexicographical convention, abbreviations, multilingual dictionary

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eISSN: 2224-0039
print ISSN: 1684-4904