Chairperson’s Annual Report: 1998-1999

by R.H. Gouws


I regard the chairperson’s annual report not only as an opportunity to reflect on the activities of the previous year but also to look ahead at new activities. With an association like AFRILEX both the past and the future are full of exciting endeavours.


The past year can be regarded as yet another successful chapter in the brief but exciting history of our association. This success may not always have been noticeable to all the members or to people outside the association, but if one takes a close look at the activities of the past year it soon becomes clear that AFRILEX has played an important role in various developments within the broader South African lexicographic environment. Although our association, like other societies, has the well being of its members at heart, the concern of AFRILEX has a much wider scope and includes the general state of lexicography in South Africa and also in Africa in general. To live up to this aim, AFRILEX had been active in the progress towards an overall South African Lexicographic Process. The past year can be characterised as a period preceding the establishment of the Pan South African Language Board’s National Lexicography Units. During this period PANSALB had arranged a number of consultative meetings to put the lexicographic process on track and AFRILEX was always involved in these discussions. The eventual success of the proposed new lexicographic dispensation in South Africa can only be accomplished if a sound theoretical basis can be established. The AFRILEX contribution had been on both the theoretical and the practical level. Attempts to ensure the necessary theoretical framework for the National Lexicography Units as well as contributions aimed at the lexicographic practice characterised the participation of AFRILEX in the PANSALB meetings.


During these meetings AFRILEX had been consulted as an expert body, and I take great pride in saying that our association was in the position to assist the South African lexicographic society at large with the needed advice.


The AFRILEX endeavour to assist with the preparatory work for the establishment of the National Lexicography Units was not restricted to participation in the PANSALB consultative meetings. AFRILEX took the initiative to organise and host the training course AFRILEX-SALEX’98, where representatives from all the different South African languages had the opportunity to participate in a practically-orientated course on bilingual lexicography. The course, offered by Sue Atkins and Michael Rundell with assistance from local lexicographers like Daan Prinsloo, Margaret Marggraff and Rufus Gouws, covered a wide range of relevant aspects and contributed to a much needed information transfer.


Modern lexicography can hardly function without computer support and a well-devised corpus. In this regard AFRILEX also took the initiative to organise a meeting where computer experts, including colleagues from the WAT, the Dictionary of South African English and Pharos, discussed various options to achieve the implementation and standardisation of computer programs for the National Lexicography Units. It soon became clear that a lot of work still needs to be done in this regard.


AFRILEX members once again received a copy of the journal Lexikos. Without any shadow of doubt one can state that this journal has become one of the leading publications for scholarly lexicographic work. AFRILEX is proud to be associated with this journal and will continue to support the Bureau of the WAT in maintaining its high standard. Members are once again requested to submit papers and other contributions to the editor. Lexikos should not only reflect the scholarly work of lexicographers from abroad but should also focus on the work done by members of AFRILEX. I would like to convey my own and our association’s sincere thanks and appreciation to dr. Johan du Plessis and the other members of the WAT for the splendid work they do to produce Lexikos. They deserve a round of applause.


On an international level, the past year has also presented enough evidence that AFRILEX is a household name on the lexicographic scene. At international conferences and meetings AFRILEX is treated on an equal basis with other lexicographic associations. International scholars and lexicographers are interested in AFRILEX and its activities. A number of prominent lexicographers have already expressed their willingness to participate in the AFRILEX conferences of the next two years.


Lexicography aimed at the production of special purpose dictionaries is one of the fields of interest which has up to now been neglected by AFRILEX. In South Africa the production of special purpose dictionaries is the primary concern of the National Terminology Services. On an international level research in the field of special purpose dictionaries has come to the fore during the last few years. AFRILEX wants to participate in this exciting endeavour. Consequently the 2000 conference will focus on special purpose lexicography. I am glad to inform you that the prominent Danish lexicographer, Prof. Sven Tarp, who is an expert in the field of special purpose lexicography, has already accepted an invitation to read a keynote paper at the 2000 conference. The venue of this conference will be the University of Stellenbosch.


The success of an association like AFRILEX does not only rest on the shoulders of the members of the Board. Each and every member has an obligation towards the well being of the association. On behalf of the Board, I want to thank all our members for their contributions to the well being of our association during the past year: your contributions have secured another prosperous AFRILEX year.


The AFRILEX web site, established by our organiser, Prof. Daan Prinsloo, has been a successful instrument in promoting AFRILEX. The electronic newsletter had also been well received and helped a lot to establish easy access to the activities of our association.


The previous two years the conference dinner was sponsored by Pharos. Mr. Hans Büttner and his colleagues at Pharos have agreed to sponsor it again this year. On behalf of the Board and the association I want to thank Pharos for what has now become a fine tradition. May this contribution prevail.


The Executive has had a good working relation with PANSALB’s subcommittee on Lexicography and Terminology. I would like to thank Mr. Kumalo, chairperson of this committee, for his willingness to co-operate with us. We know his committee has an extremely important assignment and we want to assure them of our goodwill, assistance and commitment to their task.


It has been my privilege to be chairperson of AFRILEX during the first four years of its existence. I had the pleasure of chairing an Association and a Board with a very active and hard-working Executive. This has made things very easy and pleasant for me. I want to express my gratitude to every member of the Executive and the Board for there loyal assistance. Within the Executive I have to mention the names of the vice-chairperson, Prof. Nkabinde, a man of great wisdom and a lot of experience, Prof. Daan Prinsloo our enigmatic organiser, Dr. Mariëtta Alberts the functional and competent secretary and Dr. Margaret Marggraff who coped with being treasurer and becoming a mother.


This is my final report as chairperson and I would have preferred to deliver it to you in person. Unfortunately I am in the last few weeks of my research period at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Thank you very much for granting me the privilege to be your chairperson. It is my sincere hope and belief that our association will prosper under the guidance of the new chairperson and Board and I wish them everything of the best.


4 July 1999

R.H. Gouws.


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