IsiXhosa Lexicography: Past, Present and Future

Dion Nkomo, Zola Wababa


This article presents a panoramic and critical overview of isiXhosa lexicography and its impact on the intellectualisation of this indigenous South African language. The history of isi­Xhosa lexicography dates back more than two centuries. However, there still exists a need for dic­tionaries that serve the language-speaking community as practical tools for addressing diverse communication and learning-oriented needs in the current language policy dispensation. The Isi­Xhosa National Lexicography Unit (XNLU) is currently working on dictionary projects that attempt to address this situation while at the same time not losing sight of the mandate that the Pan South African National Language Board (PanSALB) placed on all the National Lexicography Units (NLUs). For this to happen, the article argues that the NLU needs to put lexicographic prac­tice into its historical perspective, i.e. conceiving dictionary projects in the light of existing diction­aries and lexicographic traditions in the language. Over and above that, there is a need to take into account the recent developments in lexicographic research, adopt co-operative lexicographic prac­tice and develop a dictionary culture among the isiXhosa-speaking community.


isixhosa lexicography, isixhosa dictionaries, xhosa dictionary project, national lexicography units, isixhosa national lexicography unit, national dictionary, south african lexicography, research-based lexi­cography, dictionary culture

Full Text:




  • 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.


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