The Lexicographical Handling of Grammatical Equivalence: The Case of Afrikaans and Zulu

Ernst F. Kotzé


Lexicographers compiling translating dictionaries are not exclusively concerned with semantic equivalence when selecting translating equivalents for lemmata, but often include also grammatical information in illustrative examples when the lexical item to be translated does not have an exact grammatical counterpart in the target language. This is especially so in the case of typologically divergent languages, of which Afrikaans and Zulu are representative examples in the South African context. In the application of translation theory to lexicographic practice, it seems sensible to decide in favour of a descriptive approach (Toury 1990), which, in contrast to the prescriptive approach, does not assume an ideal relation between source text and target text, but in fact examines the relation between the two texts (which correlates in the case of a translating dictionary respectively with lemma and translating equivalent) in an empirical way. In this article, the problem of grammatical disparity between lemma and translating equivalent in a learners' dictionary involving the above-mentioned languages is considered. Not only disparity relating to syntactic categories, but also the morphological status of lemmata (as words, and as sub- and multilexical items) are covered in the investigation of the data. As a consequence of the insights thus gained into the systematic nature of this asymmetric relation, suggestions are made to utilise the format of the microstructure as a means to convey grammatical facts of the target language to the learner.


afrikaans, grammatical equivalence, learners' dictionaries, lexicography, macrostructure, microstructure, morphology, syntax, translating dictionaries, translation theory, trilingual dictionaries, zulu

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

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