SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.32 special issue 2 author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  


On-line version ISSN 2224-0039
Print version ISSN 1684-4904


LUTHER, Jana. An Illustration of the Usefulness of a Reading Programme in a time of corpus lexicography, with Recommendations for the Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal. Lexikos [online]. 2022, vol.32, n.spe2, pp.144-165. ISSN 2224-0039.

The Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (WAT) is a comprehensive, synchronic dictionary, the first volume of which was published in 1951. Its aim has been to treat the vocabulary of Afrikaans in its broadest scope, from today back to about one hundred years ago. Like similar dictionaries for other languages, the WAT originally came into existence dependent to a large degree on the phrases and citations ordinary language users sent to the dictionary by surface mail during the last decades of the previous millennium. For almost every headword from U to Z that still needs to be defined and elucidated, this collection of more than 4,5 million hand-written or typed cards has remained the starting point. However, since the arrival of computers in the 1980s, new technologies have fundamentally changed the way dictionary makers work. In the era of corpus lexicography, card collections have been systematically supplemented by electronic corpuses reflecting real language use, in which words can be sorted and analysed directly and with the use of various criteria. The larger, more comprehensive and more balanced the corpus, the less editors have to rely on personal impressions. Yet, in these days of online text collection, some of the WAT's peers, such as the (much more extensive) Oxford English Dictionary (OED), have maintained established reading programmes and even initiated several new ones. Large corpuses contain mostly texts from newspapers, magazines, novels and such like, in which the current, general and written varieties of the language dominate and other varieties (regional language, technical language, colloquial language, words and expressions of previous generations) are less well represented. By selecting specific texts for volunteer and paid readers, reading-programme managers have attempted to fill these gaps. Through a semi-automatic analysis of such a selected text, the novel Draaijakkals (1999) by George Weideman, this article demonstrates and subsequently recommends how a reading programme in a reviewing phase may contribute to new and augmented entries in the WAT.

Keywords : reading programme; comprehensive dictionary; synchronic dictionary; readers; text analysis; text analysis software; new material; excerpting; words; spelling; variants; parts of speech; expressions; meaning; usage; citations; dating.

        · abstract in Afrikaans     · text in Afrikaans     · Afrikaans ( pdf )


Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License