Bilingual Dictionaries and Communicative Equivalence for a Multilingual Society

Rufus H. Gouws


In a multilingual society dictionaries play an important role in assisting to achieve communicative success between the speakers of the different languages. Speakers in a multilingual society often employ a bilingual dictionary as the only instrument to meet their lexicographic needs. This implies that a bilingual dictionary becomes a polyfunctional instrument, presenting more information than just translation equivalents. This article focuses on the contents and the presentation of bilingual dictionaries. To achieve the optimal transfer of information for South African bilingual dictionaries, some general problems are identified and discussed. With the emphasis on the user perspective, metalexicographical criteria are used to investigate problems regarding the access structure and the addressing procedures in Afrikaans dictionaries. Suggestions are made to expand the outer access structure and to employ innovative methods, including the use of inserted inner texts, to improve the inner access structure. Changes in the addressing procedures to make provision for the more frequent use of nonlemmatic addressing procedures are also suggested.


access structure, addressing procedures, bilingual dictionary, communicative equivalence, dictionary, inner access structure, inserted text, lemmatic addressing, lexicography, non-lemmatic addressing, search path, outer access structure, user perspective

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

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