A Balanced and Representative Corpus: The Effects of Strict Corpus-based Dictionary Compilation in Sesotho sa Leboa*

  • VM Mojela


Theoretically the Northern Sotho language is made up of almost 30 dialects while practically it is not so, because the standard language was formed from very few of its dialects. As a result, even today the language has no corpus which is balanced or representative owing to the fact that almost all of the available corpora are compiled from the written standard language and the written dialects. The majority of the Northern Sotho dialects do not have written orthographies, and the few dialects which had written orthographies prior to standardization came to monopolize the standard language and the Northern Sotho corpora. Therefore, the compilation of a corpusbased dictionary in Northern Sotho is tantamount to a continuation of producing unbalanced and unrepresentative dictionaries, which continue to sideline and to marginalize the majority of the communities and the linguistic varieties which could potentially enrich both the Northern Sotho standard language and the Northern Sotho corpora. The main objective with this research is to analyze, to expose and to suggest ways of correcting these irregularities so that the marginalized Northern Sotho dialects can be accommodated in the standard language. This will obviously increase the size of the Northern Sotho standard language and the corpus by more than 50%.

Keywords: Corpus, balanced corpus, representative corpus, standardization, dialect, orthography, marginalized dialects, prestige dialects, missionary activities


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-0039
print ISSN: 1684-4904