n Lexikos - Linguistic theory in the practical lexicography of the African languages

Supplement 1
  • ISSN : 1684-4904
  • E-ISSN: 2224-0039



In this article, we look at the relationship between linguistics and lexicography. We specifically look at the relevance of data derived from theoretical linguistic investigations to the compilation of dictionaries in African languages. Our point of departure is that since it is language description that lies at the core of both lexicography and linguistic theory, lexicographers can improve their work by using insights from theoretically-guided linguistic investigations. Our view is that as long as lexicographers focus on words and their existence in the linguistic system, they cannot work effectively without referring to linguistic theory, consciously or unconsciously. Lexicography is not only concerned with dictionary creation, that is, with the collection of lexical units and their proper description in dictionary entries, but also with the theoretical aspects concerning the lexicon. It is necessary for dictionaries to capture all lexical interrelationships of a phonetic, morphological, syntactic or semantic nature. Drawing examples from a few dictionaries on African languages, we try to show how dictionary compilers have benefited from specific theoretical investigations in general linguistics. We look at how the different linguistic theories have contributed to the improvement in the quality of the contents of some dictionaries of African languages. Our conclusion is that there is a stronger bond between linguistic theory and lexicographic practice than is generally assumed. Ways must therefore be found to understand the various links between the two disciplines. There should be a deliberate move from mutual neglect to collaboration between the two disciplines.

In hierdie artikel kyk ons na die verhouding tussen die linguistiek en die leksikografie. Ons kyk veral na die tersaaklikheid van gegewens ontleen aan teoretiese linguistiese ondersoeke vir die samestelling van woordeboeke in die Afrikatale. Ons uitgangspunt is dat, aangesien dit taalbeskrywing is wat die kern van sowel die leksikografie as die linguistiese teorie vorm, leksikograwe hulle werk kan verbeter deur die insigte van teoreties-geleide linguistiese ondersoeke te gebruik. Ons siening is dat solank leksikograwe op woorde en hul bestaan in die linguistiese stelsel fokus, hulle nie doeltreffend kan werk sonder om bewustelik of onbewustelik na linguistiese teorie te verwys nie. Dit is noodsaaklik vir woordeboeke om alle onderlinge leksikale verhoudinge van 'n fonetiese, morfologiese, sintaktiese en semantiese aard te ondervang. Deur voorbeelde uit 'n paar woordeboeke van Afrikatale te neem, probeer ons toon hoe woordeboeksamestellers voordeel getrek het uit spesifieke teoretiese ondersoeke in die algemene linguistiek. Ons kyk hoe die verskillende linguistiese teorieë bygedra het tot die verbetering van die gehalte van die inhoud van sommige woordeboeke van Afrikatale. Ons gevolgtrekking is dat daar 'n sterker verband tussen linguistiese teorie en leksikografiese praktyk is as wat algemeen aanvaar word. Maniere moet daarom gevind word om die verskillende skakels tussen die twee dissiplines te verstaan. Daar behoort 'n doelbewuste beweging te wees van wedersydse verwaarlosing tot samewerking tussen die twee dissiplines.

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