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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

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


GOUWS, Rufus. Towards a comprehensive online dictionary - with specific reference to the Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse taal. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2021, vol.61, n.4-1, pp.1156-1176. ISSN 2224-7912.

Similar to other comprehensive dictionaries, the Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (Dictionary of the Afrikaans Language) has been planned and compiled in a print format. Although some completed comprehensive dictionaries have been adapted to some kind of electronic dictionary they can often only be regarded as print dictionaries in digital format because there is not an optimal utilisation of the possibilities offered by the online environment. Changing such a dictionary to a fully fledged online dictionary demands critical thinking, the formulation of a new dictionary conceptualisation plan and a meticulous awareness of insights from both the lexicographic practice and metalexicography. Work on the comprehensive Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse taal (WAT) was commenced in 1926 and the last volume of this dictionary should be completed in 2028. During the last decades the editors adapted the dictionary to the digital format to complement the printed version. The final volumes of this dictionary will only be produced in electronic format. After 2028 the editors will have the opportunity to embark on a complete revision of the dictionary - also to ensure that work done in the previous century is on par with the latest version of the lexicographic process of this dictionary and that presentation and treatment are executed in a consistent way. It will also be an opportunity for the editors to make a transition to a true online dictionary in which the possibilities of this medium are optimally used. This paper focuses on this transition to a complete online version. In this regard attention is given to the typological nature of a comprehensive dictionary and some of the possible adjustments the editors might consider when revising this dictionary are discussed. It is shown how important it is to introduce a data distribution structure that can ensure that lexicographic data are accommodated in the best possible venues. The use of outer features to complement the central list is briefly discussed. The online environment allows a transition from a static to a dynamic and multi-layered article structure. Suggestions are made to use such a multi-layered article structure in which non-typographical indicators are replaced by data-identifiers to assist the user in a rapid access to the required data. Using a new type of article structure can also be supported by new ventures with regard to the microstructure. Instead of the integrated microstructure currently prevailing in the WAT a new version of a semi-integrated microstructure is suggested. This structure will accommodate a limited number of co-text items in integrated text blocks in the various sub-comments on semantics to ensure that the text production function can be achieved. In addition, non-integrated text blocks will be introduced to accommodate the majority of co-text items. Seeing the dictionary as a component of a search universe, lexicographers could give their users access not only to the curated co-text items in the dictionary but also to non-curated data in the corpus of the dictionary. This approach will strengthen the WAT as reference source and will be an added value for researchers in linguistics. Although the default articles in the WAT do not contain items giving the etymology of words, the editors of this dictionary have already compiled an etymological dictionary. The WAT and the etymological dictionary can both feature in a dictionary portal and from the articles of the WAT users can be referred to an item in the etymological dictionary. Such a search domain will also be able to accommodate other lexicographic products to which dictionary users can be referred. Lexicographic functions need to be negotiated in the planning of the online WAT. Currently this multifunctional dictionary responds to the diverse needs of users by achieving both communicative and cognitive functions. Due to the original planning of this dictionary, users often are not aware of its functions. In this contribution it is shown how various procedures could be followed to enhance the multifunctional value of an online version of this comprehensive dictionary. Besides the use of outer texts, it is shown how a semi-integrated microstructure could be used in an innovative way to separate semantic and encyclopaedic data in dictionary articles. A text block that focuses on encyclopaedic data can enhance the response of the WAT to the cognitive needs of its users.

Palavras-chave : cognitive function; co-text; data distribution structure; data-identifiers; frame structure; lexicographical functions; outer features; search area; search domain; search field; search universe; search zone; semi-integrated microstructure; structural indicators.

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