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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


BREED, Adri; CARSTENS, Wannie  and  OLIVIER, Jako. The DBAL: An unknown digital language museum. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2016, vol.56, n.2-1, pp.391-409. ISSN 2224-7912.

The Digital Bibliography of Afrikaans Linguistics (DBAL) is a comprehensive database of Afrikaans linguistics and language-related sources. This database includes more than 16 000 sources, of which 9 500 are available in full-text format. In addition, 1 500 links to external full-text sources are also listed. This article reports on research on the usage patterns of the DBAL. In this regard, the assumption that the extensive archive provided by the DBAL is not used sufficiently by potential users is confirmed. The DBAL was based on the Bibliografie Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde (BNTL) or Bibliography of Dutch Linguistics and Literature. In terms of the establishment of the DBAL, it was important that the database not only includes lists of sources but also provides an archive of digitalised sources. From the start of the development of the database in 1993 up to its official launch in 2010, the database now includes not only articles from academic journals, books, dissertations and theses, but also reviews, newspaper articles and online material. A process of digitalisation of out-of-print books on Afrikaans linguistics was also initiated. After acquiring the necessary rights from authors, publishers or families of deceased authors, a number of key historical works on Afrikaans linguistics and related fields were scanned and added to the database. The entries in the database cover 193 different categories. The majority of sources in the database are listed under "Diachronic linguistics and language history", followed by "Education and teaching", "Language practice and the study of language in use", "Language politics" and "Lexicography". Usage statistics indicate that from June 2010 up to December 2015 a total of 6 672 searches were conducted on the DBAL. This included searches from 1 038 individual devices. Most of the visitors are from South Africa; however, a fair number of visitors from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany were also noted. A survey was conducted among current and prospective users of the DBAL. Most of the respondents were university lecturers, researchers or students. However, a small number of language practitioners and journalists were also part of the research population. Most of the respondents indicated that they work in the fields of sociolinguistics, descriptive linguistics, language history or language practice. The majority of respondents are associated with universities in South Africa; however, a small number of international universities were also represented. The responses indicate the importance of word of mouth in terms of the marketing of the database. Most respondents who are already users of the database noted that they use the database at least once a month. From the survey it is clear that the DBAL is regarded as a useful research resource. It is also clear that more should be done towards marketing the database among potential users and especially linguistics students. Furthermore, greater co-operation from role-players such as Afrikaans linguists and linguistics lecturers is needed. A future expansion to the DBAL would be multilingual interfaces, as well as the inclusion of even more international materials. In addition, the DBAL can clearly act as a prototype for similar projects in relatedfields andfor other South African languages. As a research resource the DBAL clearly has an important role to play. The DBAL has established itself as a digital monument of the Afrikaans language. The groundwork has been laid for the development of the DBAL from an archive of digitalised material to the basis of a dynamic open-source knowledge community of Afrikaans linguists.

Keywords : Digital Bibliography of Afrikaans Linguistics; linguistics database; Afrikaans linguistics sources; linguistic usage patterns; digitalisation of sources.

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