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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


GOUWS, Rufus H.. A few lesser known Afrikaans dictionary monuments. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2016, vol.56, n.2-1, pp.355-370. ISSN 2224-7912.

Dictionaries reflect the actual use of a given language, they also contribute to the documentation and eventual standardisation of the language. This applies to dictionaries that have the language for general purposes as its subject matter, but also to dictionaries that focus on different languages for special purposes. The lexicographic practice of Afrikaans displays a comprehensive collection of dictionaries that represent a broad typological spectrum. This collection includes both better and lesser known dictionaries and dictionary types. As a container of knowledge, each dictionary can be regarded as a monument of the language treated in that dictionary. However, many dictionaries do not receive the recognition they deserve as practical language instruments, because their typological category puts them beyond the day to day dictionary experience of the majority of people. This paper pays attention to products from both the lexicographic practice and the field of dictionary research, also known as metalexicography, that have become monuments within the broad field of lexicography. Metalexicographic publications receive only scant attention. The primary discussion is directed at the lexicographic practice, with the main focus on the contribution of a few lesser known Afrikaans dictionaries. In this regard, two major classes are distinguished, i.e. community projects and innovative products. Within the first category, the attention is focused on a dictionary that displays the creativeness of members of the Afrikaans language community in the formation of neologisms. It is shown that although these neologisms may not become part of the standard variety of the language, they do emphasise the creative nature of Afrikaans - and this dictionary gives evidence of this wordformation products. A second dictionary in this category represents a product with the genuine purpose to make people aware of a language that is becoming extinct and to reflect something of the people and the culture of this language. This community-driven dictionary has an innovative, genuine purpose, showing how members of the Ju\ 'hoan speech community, as well as people from the English and Afrikaans speech communities, compiled a selection of core vocabulary items from the Ju\ 'hoan lexicon, arranged in thematic categories that reflect important aspects from their daily life. The use ofpictorial illustrations as guiding elements of the articles results in an interesting article structure and allows access from picture to word. The members of the speech community were not only involved in the planning and compilation of the dictionary, but their artists created the pictorial illustrations that reflect something of the world view of the community. In the second category, a few dictionaries are mentioned because of their innovative approach. One dictionary is discussed in more detail, i.e. a bilingual dictionary with Afrikaans and English as language pair, but which was compiled specifically for English speaking users who want to learn Afrikaans. The target user and the genuine purpose of the dictionary were identified in an unambiguous way. This dictionary adheres to an integrated approach that sees a creative use of a frame structure with a variety of outer texts. It successfully negotiates a transtextual functional approach to outer texts, and supplies the envisaged target users with data from which information can be retrieved to satisfy both communicative and cognitive needs. The selection of outer texts adds to the comprehensive knowledge transfer made available in this dictionary. Thispolyfunctional dictionary was planned in such a way that dictionary and grammar are integrated into a single source. The lexicographers clearly identified the needs and reference skills of their target users, and the outer texts complement the lexicographic treatment and enhance the nature and extent of information retrieval in this dictionary. Although the focus in this article remains on lexicographic practice, the discussion is done within a theoretical framework, i.e. the general theory of lexicography, which looks at dictionary structures, and function theory, emphasising the importance that the compilation of any dictionary needs to be preceded by an identification of the function(s) the dictionary has to address.

Keywords : community projects; dictionary typology; frame structure; general dictionaries; guiding elements; integrated approach; lexicographic functions; neologisms; outer texts; specialised dictionaries; standardisation; text production; word lists.

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