Lexicography in West Africa: Preparing a Bilingual Kisi-English Dictionary

  • G.T. Childs Department of Linguistics, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Keywords: atlantic languages, bilingual dictionary, computer software, expressive language, ideophones, kisi, language variation, lexicography, phonology, pragmatics, semantics


This paper presents some of the issues involved in preparing a bilingual dictionary for Kisi, an underdocumented language spoken in West Africa. Because the language possesses little in the way of literacy materials, fundamental issues as to orthography, word division, etc., had to be considered. In addition, no grammar of the language (or its closest congeners) was available and thus basic grammatical analysis had to be performed simultaneously. I briefly consider some of these problems, discussing the use of the lexical data base programs known as LEXWARE. I then focus on the specific problems raised by the expressive word class known to Africanists as ideophones. The conclusion, in the form of advice to future lexicographers of such languages, is that before undertaking such an endeavour, one must seriously assess its feasibility.  
How to Cite
Childs, G. (1). Lexicography in West Africa: Preparing a Bilingual Kisi-English Dictionary. Lexikos, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.5788/3-1-1098