The Role of Dictionaries in the Documentation and Codification of African Languages: The Case of Khoisan

Andy Chebanne

Abstract


ABSTRACT: Khoisan speech communities are found in Southern Africa, with Botswana having the greatest ethnic and linguistic diversity. Living in small communities, the Khoisan have always found themselves in a situation of being ethnic and linguistic minorities that are socially marginalized. The Khoisan marginalization is historical, resulting in the Khoisan languages not featuring in education and language development. These languages are underresearched and existing publications are divergent, and not accessible to the speech communities themselves. While some anthropologists, linguists, and a few community organizations have undertaken some development of language resources, as yet these efforts have not had the desired effect. The reasons are that the publications used implement impractical linguistic writing conventions or that no supportive programmes exist to encourage more focused and purposeful research and language promotion through literacy classes. This article will review research and publication materials on the Khoisan languages by arguing that there is a need to document and codify these languages to make them accessible to the speech communities. Because dictionary documentation is suggested as the most viable way to accomplish this, existing lexicographical works will be reviewed to demonstrate their strengths and shortcomings. The article will also indicate why and how dictionaries will be critical in this documentation and codification enterprise. Lemmatization procedures will be suggested to facilitate the capture of the linguistic and the indigenous knowledge system of the Khoisan. In this way the Khoisan languages will be vitalized and research contribute to Khoisan language development.

OPSOMMING: Die rol van woordeboeke in die dokumentasie en kodifikasie van Afrikatale: Die geval van Khoisan. Khoisanspraakgemeenskappe word in Suidelike Afrika aangetref met Botswana wat die grootste etniese en linguistiese verskeidenheid het. Deurdat hulle in klein gemeenskappe lewe, het die Khoisan hulle altyd in 'n situasie bevind van etniese en linguistiese minderhede te wees wat maatskaplik gemarginaliseer is. Die marginalisering van die Khoisan is histories, wat daartoe gelei het dat die Khoisantale nie 'n belangrike plek in opvoeding en taalontwikkeling inneem nie. Hierdie tale is ondernagevors en bestaande publikasies is uiteenlopend, en nie toeganklik vir die spraakgemeenskappe self nie. Terwyl sommige antropoloë, linguiste en 'n paar gemeenskapsorganisasies 'n sekere ontwikkeling van taalhulpmiddels onderneem het, het hierdie pogings tot dusver nog nie die gewenste uitwerking gehad nie. Die redes is dat die publikasies wat gebruik word, onpraktiese linguistiese skryfkonvensies toepas of dat geen ondersteunende programme bestaan om meer gefokuste en doelgerigte navorsing en taalverheffing deur geletterdheidsklasse te bevorder nie. Hierdie artikel sal die navorsings- en publikasiemateriaal betreffende die Khoisantale beoordeel deur te redeneer dat daar 'n behoefte bestaan om hierdie tale te dokumenteer en te kodifiseer om hulle vir die spraakgemeenskappe toeganklik te maak. Omdat dokumentasie deur woordeboeke aanbeveel word as die haalbaarste manier om dit te bewerkstellig, sal bestaande leksikografiese werke bespreek word om hulle sterktes en gebreke te toon. Die artikel sal ook aanbeveel waarom en hoe woordeboeke krities in hierdie dokumentasie- en kodifikasieonderneming sal wees. Lemmatiseringsprosedures sal aanbeveel word om die vaslegging van die taal- en inheemsekennisstelsel van die Khoisan te bevorder. Op hierdie manier sal die Khoisantale verlewendig word en navorsing bydra tot Khoisantaalontwikkeling.


Sleutelwoorde: KHOISANTALE, ONDERNAGEVORSTE TALE, TAALDOKUMENTASIE EN -KODIFIKASIE, WOORDEBOEK, LEKSIKOGRAFIESE WERKE, LEMMATISERINGSPROSEDURES, TAALKUNDIGE EN INHEEMSE KENNIS, TAALINSTANDHOUDING EN -VERHEFFING, BOTSWANA


Keywords


KHOISAN LANGUAGES; UNDERRESEARCHED LANGUAGES; LANGUAGE DOCUMENTATION AND CODIFICATION; DICTIONARY; LEXICOGRAPHICAL WORKS; LEMMATIZATION PROCEDURES; LINGUISTIC AND INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE; LANGUAGE PRESERVATION AND PROMOTION; BOTSWANA

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5788/20-0-134

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

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