A General Lexicographic Model for a Typological Variety of Dictionaries in African Languages

Gertrud Faaß, Sonja E. Bosch, Rufus H. Gouws


So far, there have been few descriptions on creating structures capable of storing lexicographic data, ISO 24613:2008 being one of the latest. Another one is by Spohr (2012), who designs a multifunctional lexical resource which is able to store data of different types of dictionaries in a user-oriented way. Technically, his design is based on the principle of a hierarchical XML/OWL (eXtensible Markup Language/Web Ontology Language) representation model. This article follows another route in describing a model based on entities and relations between them; MySQL (usually referred to as: Structured Query Language) describes a database system of tables containing data and definitions of relations between them. The model was developed in the context of the project "Scientific eLexicography for Africa" and the lexicographic database to be built thereof will be implemented with MySQL. The principles of the ISO model and of Spohr's model are adhered to with one major difference in the implementation strategy: we do not place the lemma in the centre of attention, but the sense description — all other elements, including the lemma, depend on the sense description. This article also describes the contained lexicographic data sets and how they have been collected from different sources. As our aim is to compile several prototypical internet dictionaries (a monolingual Northern Sotho dictionary, a bilingual learners' Xhosa–English dictionary and a bilingual Zulu–English dictionary), we describe the necessary microstructural elements for each of them and which principles we adhere to when designing different ways of accessing them. We plan to make the model and the (empty) database with all graphical user interfaces that have been developed, freely available by mid-2015.


african languages dictionaries, lexicographic model, macrostructure, microstructure, access structure, iso24613:2008, mysql, multifunctional lexical resource

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5788/24-1-1254


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

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