A lexical entry is a form which represents the word or an expression which is being described in a dictionary. A lexical entry may consist of different forms, for example, a word, stem, phrase, or a sentence. In compiling a dictionary the editors must of necessity make a selection of lemmas from all words comprising the vocabulary of a language (Swanepoel 1989:32). The entries in a dictionary can be ordered in different ways; they can be ordered, for example, according to the letters of alphabet, or according to the semantic system. Ordering entries in a dictionary is meant to enable the user to find the correct or suitable word in a language without difficulty. Users do not need to struggle to find a word for which they are looking. Many dictionaries in different languages order their lexical entries according to the letters of alphabet because this system is considered user friendly. Through this system, the first letters of the words are used to order the lexical entries. Like in other dictionaries in many languages, lexical entries in Tshivenḓa dictionaries are ordered according to the letters of alphabet. However, Tshivenḓa differs with other languages because it is a language characterised by diacritics that are used to denote some speech sounds. In addition to the normal letters of alphabet, there are letters that are identified by the use of diacritics. The letters, ḓ, ḽ, ṋ, ṅ, and ṱ, represent speech sounds that are different from those of other normal letters of alphabet. The letters ḓ, ḽ, ṋ and ṱ are dentals, whereas ṅ is a velar. The number of letters of alphabet in Tshivenḓa has been extended in this regard. The letters of alphabet with diacritics should also be considered when ordering lexical entries in Tshivenḓa dictionaries.
Lexical entries in all Tshivenḓa bilingual and trilingual dictionaries have been ordered according to letters of alphabet. For example, the lexical entries in Venda Dictionary: Tshivenda – English by Van Warmelo and Improved Trilingual Dictionary: Venda – Afrikaans – English by Wentzel and Muloiwa, have been ordered according to the letters of alphabet, including the letters with diacritics. The letters with diacritics are not mixed with the normal letters of alphabet, as they stand separately. Likewise, lexical entries in Tshivenda/English Ṱhalusamaipfi Dictionary by Tshikota are ordered according to the letters of alphabet, including the letters with diacritics. However, the letters with diacritics have been mixed with the normal letters of alphabet; they do not stand separately. For example, lexical entries starting with the letter ḽ are mixed with lexical entries starting with the letter of alphabet l. These two letters do not represent the same speech sound. The letter ḽ is a dental, whereas l is an alveolar.
Van Warmelo (1989) and Wentzel and Muloiwa (1982) explain the usage of both normal letters of alphabet and those with diacritics regarding the ordering of lexical entries in the style guide. Van Warmelo (1989) states that letters with diacritics rank as separate letters in the alphabet in order: ḓ, d, ḽ, l, ṋ, n, ṅ, ṱ, t. Wentzel and Muloiwa (1982:149), in their style guide also state that: “The dental symbols ḓ, ḽ, ṋ and ṱ preceed the normal d, l, n and t; while the velar ṅ in its turn follows the normal n. This implies that words which for example, commence with ḓ are listed first and separately from words commencing with d.” The explanation in the style guide of the dictionaries mentioned above helps users to understand the ordering of lexical entries and to find words without difficulty. Unlike Van Warmelo (1989) and Wentzel and Muloiwa (1982), Tshikota (2006) does not make use of the style guide to explain the ordering of lexical entries in his dictionary. Users are not informed beforehand about the ordering of lexical entries in the dictionary
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the impact of ordering lexical entries on users in Tshivenḓa – English Bilingual and Explanatory Dictionary. This will be achieved by comparing the ordering of lexical entries in this dictionary with that of other Tshivenḓa bilingual dictionaries.
Swanepoel, P.H. 1989. Translation Studies (Honours): Diploma in Translation – Only Study Guide for LEKPER-Q. Pretoria: University of South Africa.
Tshikota, S. 2006. Tshivenḓa/English Ṱhalusamaipfi Dictionary.Cape Town: Phumelela Publishers.
Van Warmelo, N.J. 1989. Venda Dictionary: Tshivenḓa – English. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik.
Wentzel, P.J. and Muloiwa, T. W. 1982. Improved Trilingual Dictionary: Venda – Afrikaans – English. Pretoria: University of South Africa.