Challenges to Issues of Balance and Representativeness in African Lexicography

Thapelo Joseph Otlogetswe

Abstract


Abstract: Modern dictionaries depend on corpora of different sizes and types for frequency listings, concordances and collocations, illustrative sentences and grammatical information. With the help of computer software, retrieving such information has increasingly become relatively easy. However, the quality of retrieved information for lexicographic purposes depends on the information input at the stage of corpus construction. If corpora are not representative of the different language usages of a speech community, they may prove to be unreliable sources of lexicographic information. There are, however, issues in African languages which make many African corpora questionable. These issues include a lack of texts of different genres, the unavailability of balanced and representative written texts, a complete absence of spoken texts as well as literacy problems in African societies. This article therefore explores the different challenges to the construction of reliable corpora in African languages. It argues that African languages face peculiar challenges and corpus research may require a different treatment compared to European and American corpus research. It finally concludes that issues of balance and representativeness appear theoretically impossible when looking at the results of sociolinguistic research on the different existing language varieties which are difficult to represent accurately in a corpus.

Keywords: AFRICAN LANGUAGES, BALANCE, BANK OF ENGLISH, BORROWING,BRITISH NATIONAL CORPUS, COBUILD, CODE-SWITCHING, COMPUTERS, CORPORA,DIALECT, DICTIONARIES, FREQUENCY, LANGUAGE VARIETY, REPRESENTATIVENESS,SETSWANA, SOCIOLINGUISTICS, SPEECH, TEXT

Opsomming: Uitdagings betreffende kwessies van balans en verteenwoordigendheidin Afrikaleksikografie. Moderne woordeboeke steun op korpusse vanverskillende groottes en soorte vir frekwensielyste, konkordansies en kollokasies, voorbeeldsinneen taalkundige inligting. Met die hulp van rekenaarprogrammatuur het die herwinning van sulkeinligting toenemend redelik maklik geword. Die gehalte van herwonne inligting vir leksikografiesedoeleindes steun egter op die inligtingsinset by die korpusboufase. Indien korpusse nie verteenwoordigendis van die verskillende taalgebruike van 'n spraakgemeenskap nie, mag hulle blyk onbetroubare bronne van leksikografiese inligting te wees. Daar is egter kwessies in Afrikatale watbaie Afrikakorpusse problematies maak. Hierdie kwessies sluit in die tekort aan tekste van verskillendegenres, die niebeskikbaarheid van gebalanseerde en verteenwoordigende geskrewe tekste,die volkome afwesigheid van gesproke tekste asook geletterdheidsprobleme in Afrikagemeenskappe.Hierdie artikel ondersoek derhalwe die verskillende uitdagings betreffende die bou vanbetroubare Afrikataalkorpusse. Dit voer aan dat Afrikatale teenoor besondere uitdagings staan enkorpusnavorsing 'n verskillende behandeling mag vereis in vergelyking met Europese en Amerikaansekorpusnavorsing. Ten slotte kom dit tot die gevolgtrekking dat kwessies van balans enverteenwoordigendheid teoreties onmoontlik lyk wanneer gekyk word na die resultate van sosiolinguistiesenavorsing oor die verskillende bestaande taalvariëteite wat moeilik is om presies in 'nkorpus te verteenwoordig.

Sleutelwoorde: AFRIKATALE, BALANS, BANK OF ENGLISH, BRITISH NATIONALCORPUS, COBUILD, DIALEK, FREKWENSIE, KODEWISSELING, KORPUSSE, ONTLENING,REKENAARS, SETSWANA, SOSIOLINGUISTIEK, SPRAAK, TAALVERSKEIDENHEID, TEKS,VERTEENWOORDIGENDHEID, WOORDEBOEKE


Keywords


AFRICAN LANGUAGES; BALANCE; BANK OF ENGLISH; BORROWING; BRITISH NATIONAL CORPUS; COBUILD; CODE-SWITCHING; COMPUTERS; CORPORA; DIALECT; DICTIONARIES; FREQUENCY; LANGUAGE VARIETY; REPRESENTATIVENESS; SETSWANA; SOCIOLINGUISTICS; SPEECH; TEXT

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5788/16-0-653

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ISSN 2224-0039 (online); ISSN 1684-4904 (print)

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