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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versão On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versão impressa ISSN 0041-4751


OTTO, Anna Nel. A critical appraisal of the Afrikaanse Woordelys en Spelreëls - AWS (2009). Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2017, vol.57, n.2-1, pp.271-284. ISSN 2224-7912.

The AWS (Afrikaanse woordelys en spelreëls) is a normative source of information on spelling with the intention to assist the user with text production and text correction. The point of departure in this article is taking into account the potential user's point of view to evaluate the AWS in terms of its functions. Firstly, the different possible motivations for lemma selection is examined. Although corpora are useful, they must, according to Asmussen (2013:1081), be consulted with great circumspection. With e-dictionaries logfile analysis can provide valuable data about which lexicographic items are looked up by users, although it cannot confirm that the user will experience it as a successful consultation (Nesi 2013:65). It appears as if researchers increasingly follow a mixed-method approach to compensate for the limitations of individual methods to determine lemma selection and the treatment thereof. Researchers like Wiegand (2001:235), Helbig and Osswald (2013:1141), Barnhart (1967:161), Tarp (2013:463), Storrer (2013:1245) and Müller-Spitzer 2013:369) have confirmed the value of the search question as one of the important elements related to the compilation of reference works, i.e. in the form of a use situation question where the user, as it were, poses a question to the work of reference, e.g. what is the plural of word x? In a communicative metalexicography such as the theory of lexicographic communication (cf Beyer 2014) the concept of the user question is also a key component as the reference work consultation process is an act in which the user, as it were, poses a question to the reference work by consulting this type of resource. In the theory of lexicographic communication a distinction is made between a raw user question and a user situation question (Beyer 2014:56, 70-71). A raw user question is a user question as the user would have formulated it as a consultation stimulus, e.g: What is the part of speech of boek? or: Is boek a noun? A user situation question is an abstraction of one or more raw usage questions into an illocution in terms of Searle's (1969:31) expression of illocutions against the background of his principle of expressibility. The two raw user questions mentioned above can be reduced to the following user situation question: (The part of speech of boek is?). The concept of the user question can be used as empirical research tool in real or simulated user situations. A limitation of this study is that it was not investigated in a real situation, however, the current data types of the AWS were taken as point of departure to investigate possible user situation questions. The present AWS already pays attention to a wide variety of typical spelling and punctuation problems, for example what the plural is of a certain noun and where capital letters, hyphens, diaeresis, etcetera must be used. For a full set of data types the index of the AWS can be consulted. The article subsequently examines forty search questions that can be regarded as typical questions that a user could ask. The finding is that the AWS at present answers most of these questions, whether in the word list or via the rules, but that there are still unanswered questions, especially with regard to food terms. The compilers of the new AWS (to be released in 2017) should take note of these limitations in AWS (2009). Since meaning discrimination is essential in determining the spelling of certain lexical items, it is extremely important that contextual guidance is provided, e.g. aan een (two words if the meaning is "for one") but aaneen (one word if the meaning is continuously). The compilers of the forthcoming AWS should also take note of the fact that the spelling of learners and students have deteriorated to such an extent that for instance all words containing ei, ui and y are potentially problematic for these users.

Palavras-chave : AWS; reference work; users' needs; normative source; lemma selection; search question; raw user question; user situation question; meaning discrimination; log file analysis.

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