Otjiherero Dictionary Project Underway
In modern lexicography a dictionary project does not start when the lexicographer sits down to write a definition of the word "aardvark". It starts long before the first definition is written by collecting vast amounts of targeted language data and organising it in a linguistic corpus. The corpus can then be queried by using specialised software when the actual dictionary compilation begins. This ensures that ultimately the dictionary offers an accurate image of the target language to best serve its users' needs.
The construction and utilisation of a linguistic corpus for Otjiherero was the focus of a two-day workshop held recently in the computer laboratory of the Department of Information and Communication Studies. The workshop was organised by Professors Jekura Kavari and Herman Beyer of the Department of Language and Literature Studies. The presenter was Professor Danie Prinsloo, an international expert in African languages corpus linguistics from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. This occasion marked the start of a project to compile a monolingual standard dictionary of Otjiherero. The need for such a dictionary was identified in 2014 by the Otjiherero Curriculum Committee of the Ministry of Education. The members of this Committee, who make up the dictionary management team under the leadership of Prof. Kavari, attended the workshop along with interested colleagues. The project will be housed in the Department of Language and Literature Studies, which has residing expertise in lexicography.
The start of the Otjiherero dictionary project coincides with the initiative towards establishing a national institute for Namibian indigenous languages that was launched in December last year.