oa Lexikos - Challenges encountered in the compilation of an advanced Shona dictionary

Volume 10, Issue 10
  • ISSN : 1684-4904
  • E-ISSN: 2224-0039



This paper highlights the challenges encountered by the African Languages Lexical (ALLEX) Project (at present the African Languages Research Institute (ALRI)) in Harare, Zimbabwe, which is in the process of compiling an advanced Shona dictionary (ASD). Its forerunner is the general Shona dictionary, Durarnazwi ReChishona (1996). The ASD is intended to be a comprehensive reference work, which will serve as a resource for more advanced users, especially those at higher secondary and tertiary education levels. The most important challenges have been in the areas of headword selection and the treatment of geographical/individual variation. The matters discussed here show the conflict between usage, i.e. popular acceptance, and (orthographic) norm, a problem often experienced in young literary languages subject to heavy foreign influence. This paper looks at: (a) the limitations of the current Shona orthography, the selection and codification of international vocabulary, and the presentation of variants and synonyms in the dictionary, and (b) the solutions suggested, and/or the ongOing debate on the topics.

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