Problems in Swahili Lexicography

Albina R. Chuwa

Abstract


Swahili dictionaries have been on the market since 1882. Most of these dictionaries were compiled by foreigners who were either missionaries or political administrators working in East Africa. Although the history of Swahili dictionary compilation seems to have survived a number of years, the field of lexicography is still a very new field in relation to what has been done by Tanzanians in this field. The first Swahili monolingual dictionary by a team of Tanzanian amateurs in dictionary compilation was published in 1981.

Due to inexperience in the field of lexicography the compilers have been facing various kinds of problems arising either from the technical level (whereby solutions for such problems are beyond the dictionary compilers) or from the practical level (whereby solutions depend more on the working team). When the two levels intertwine it makes the work of the dictionary compilers even more difficult, thus requiring support from outside the team. The sample problems discussed in this paper, though not exhaustive, pose some difficulties to Swahili dictionary compilers. Among those problems are:

1.    Fiscal constraints which force compilers to embrace a big user target, making the dictionary objectives too wide to address any group satisfactorily.

2.    The choice of language (standard versus non-standard varieties) inhibits the expansion of existing vocabulary in Swahili dictionaries.

3.    The identification of lemmas and their grammatical categories still requires special attention from Swahili grammarians and structuralists.

 


Keywords


amateur, category, compiler, corpus, data bank, dialect, dictionary entry, frequency, grammar, grammatical category, headword, lemma, lexicography, meaning, objective, problem, selection (of entry), source, standard dictionary, synonym, target

Full Text:

PDF


DOI: https://doi.org/10.5788/6-1-1049

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.



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

Creative Commons License CC BY 4.0


Powered by OJS and hosted by Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service since 2011.


Disclaimer:

This journal is hosted by the SU LIS on request of the journal owner/editor. The SU LIS takes no responsibility for the content published within this journal, and disclaim all liability arising out of the use of or inability to use the information contained herein. We assume no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any breaches of agreement with other publishers/hosts.

SUNJournals Help