African Language Dictionaries for Children — A Neglected Genre

Elsabé Taljard, Danie Prinsloo


Children's dictionaries are instrumental in establishing a dictionary culture and are the gateway to sustained and informed dictionary use. It is therefore surprising that very little attention is paid to these dictionaries in scholarly research. In this article we reflect on the design of two series of dictionaries and one free-standing dictionary, all presumably aimed at first-time dictionary users, specifically looking at how selected design elements are aligned with the lexicographic needs of the target users. We argue that the conceptualization of children's dictionaries for African-language-speaking children should be a bottom-up process, and that an Afrocentric approach, taking the target user's Frame of Reference as the point of departure, is preferable to a Eurocentric approach, which often leads to a mismatch between conceptual relationships and linguistic form and function in African language dictionaries.


children's dictionaries; african language dictionaries; user's perspective; theory of lexicographic communication; Afrocentric approach to dictionary compilation; user's frame of reference (FoR)

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

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