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The transliteration principle: is this the best procedure in African language lexicography and terminology?

M Mphahlele


The creation of target language equivalents in bilingual dictionaries have always been a challenge to both lexicographers and terminologists. Lexicographers, terminologists, subject specialists and linguists face a challenging task of supplying term equivalents for foreign international languages. The lack of a sufficient technical vocabulary in the African languages poses challenges to lexicographers and terminologists when supplying technical equivalents. They often regard transliteration as the quickest lexicographical and terminological procedure without taking the practical demands of users into account. This impedes the optimal retrieval of semantic information by the target users of dictionaries. This article discusses possible reasons why transliteration should not be regarded as the first but the last resort in lexicography and terminology. It proposes different lexicographical and terminological procedures lexicographers and terminologists can use to supply accurate and appropriate translation equivalents without making excessive use
of transliteration. In this way a scientific language will develop which could assist users to communicate successfully in the mother tongue.

Keywords: terms, term equivalents, terminologists, subject specialists, linguists, international languages, international scientific languages, underdeveloped languages, transliteration, terminological principle, translation equivalents, semantic information, borrowing, target language.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-0039
print ISSN: 1684-4904