Challenges of Predictability and Consistency in the First Comprehensive Sotho Dictionary

Inge Kosch


Predictability and consistency are requirements that should run like a golden thread through the macro-, medio- as well as the microstructure of dictionary articles. Adherence to these requirements is one of the marks of a user-friendly reference work that will allow for easy access and trouble-free retrieval of required information. This article aims to investigate some features of Endemann's (1911) Wörterbuch der Sotho-Sprache (Dictionary of the Sotho language) with the focus on challenges of predictability and consistency in the lemmatization approach, the access alphabet, cross references and article treatments. The dictionary has hitherto remained at the outskirts of scholarly investigation, one of the reasons being the fact that the target language is German and that, as such, it is not readily accessible to every scholar of the Bantu languages. A further reason is that it is aimed at subject specialists rather than the general public and places a high demand on the lexicographic skill of the user. Some interesting insights can be gained from this example of an early attempt at dictionary compilation and its shortcomings can serve as a springboard for continual improvement of access routes and user-friendliness of dictionaries in the Sotho languages.


predictability; consistency; comprehensive dictionary; sotho languages; dictionary user; lemmatization strategy; cross references; alphabetization; word lemmatization; stem lemmatization; data categories

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

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