Borrowing and Dictionary Compilation: The Case of the Indigenous South African Languages

  • MJ Mafela


Borrowing occurs when a language adds a word from another language to its own lexicon. Languages in neighbouring regions often borrow from each other. In South Africa, there are over nine indigenous languages, in addition to Afrikaans and English, all of which coexist. In their coexistence they borrow from one another. African language dictionaries reveal that these languages have borrowed a great deal from Afrikaans and English. However, one would expect these dictionaries to reflect some borrowing from other indigenous languages; on the contrary, they include very few such words. Although, one encounters many words from indigenous languages being used by other African languages in their spoken language and literary works, these are not included in dictionaries. This article seeks to highlight factors contributing to the failure to include words borrowed from other indigenous languages in African language dictionaries. Keywords: Borrowing, Dictionary Compilation, Indigenous Languages, Lexicon, Morpheme, Vocabulary, Developing Languages, Loan Words, Terminology, Etymology, Lexicography

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-0039
print ISSN: 1684-4904