Revolutionizing Bantu Lexicography — A Zulu Case Study

  • G-M de Schryver


Zulu uses a conjunctive writing system, that is, a system whereby relatively short linguistic words are joined together to form long orthographic words with complex morphological structures. This has led to the so-called 'stem tradition' in dictionary making — for Zulu, as well as for most other Bantu languages. Given this lemmatization approach has been found to be inadequate for young learners (who fail to isolate stems), the development of a new approach was imperative for them, but until recently deemed impossible to implement. In this paper it is argued that it is now perfectly possible to reverse the unproductive trend, and to opt for the lemmatization of full words for all but one of the word classes in Bantu. This revolution is made possible thanks to the recent availability of relatively large corpora, with which the really frequent citation options may be pinpointed. Rather than a mission statement, this paper offers the result for all word classes. To do so, an actual guide to the use of a Zulu dictionary is re-represented and annotated. Keywords: Zulu, Bantu, Dictionary, Usage Guide, Mini-Grammar, Word Classes, Stem Vs. Word Lemmatization, Corpus, User-Friendly

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-0039
print ISSN: 1684-4904