The Story of the African Association for Lexicography



It all started with a feasibility study for a lexicographical institute for Southern Africa which was undertaken on behalf of the Board of Control of the Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (WAT). The results indicated a keen interest in a unifying body among lexicographers and members of related professions. It was however strongly felt that such a body should not be bureaucratically structured and should not restrict individual freedom, inter alia with regard to management and control. It was therefore suggested by the research team (Dr. Mariėtta Alberts and Prof. William Branford) that a professional association for lexicography should be established to meet the needs of lexicographers as well as those of other interest groups.



Up to the beginning of 1995, apart from existing Dictionary Units, the interests of lexicography in South Africa had been served by the Linguistic Society of Southern Africa (LSSA) and the African Language Association of Southern Africa (ALASA). Lexicographers, however, felt the need for the establishment of an association dedicated to lexicography.

Dr. Mariėtta Alberts and Prof. Daan Prinsloo finally decided on one sunny day in March 1995 to draft a questionnaire which was mailed to members of ALASA, the LSSA, publishers, government departments and even political parties. More than 800 questionnaires were mailed. The reaction and enthusiasm expressed by the respondents was overwhelming. One respondent even remarked: "I had been praying for the establishment of such an organisation!"



A target date for the establishment was set for 14 July 1995. A postal nomination and voting procedure then followed. A Board was elected by postal vote (with a ballot percentage of nearly 80%).

On 14 July 1995, at the closure of the 8th International Conference of ALASA, the big moment finally arrived. At 11 o'clock Dr. Reinhard R.K. Hartmann, who chaired the inaugural meeting, officially announced the birth of a new member of the -Lex family: THE AFRICAN ASSOCIATION FOR LEXICOGRAPHY or AFRILEX for short.

(In March 1997 Dr. Hartmann was also involved in the birth of another -Lex baby, this time the Asian Association for Lexicography (ASIALEX) and he is expected to establish an Intergalactic Association for Lexicography soon.)



Chairperson: Prof. Rufus H. Gouws, Vice-Chairpersons: Mrs. Irene Dippenaar and Prof. Sizwe Satyo, Secretary-Treasurer: Dr. Mariėtta Alberts, and Conference Organiser: Prof. Daan Prinsloo. Mr. Pieter Harteveld was co-opted as Editor. Other Board Members were: Prof. Adelia Carstens, Prof. Tony Links, Prof. Louis Louwrens, Prof. Buyiswa Mini, Prof. A.C. Nkabinde, Prof. Piet Swanepoel and Dr. Dirk van Schalkwyk.



In 1991 the Bureau of the WAT took the initiative to begin publishing a journal of lexicography called Lexikos as the first in a series called AFRILEX, the acronym for "lexicography in and for Africa". Permission was given to use this name for the new association. After the establishment of the African Association for Lexicography, Lexikos also became the official mouthpiece of the Association, Afrilex.



§             Mini Seminar on Lexicography, July 1995, University of Pretoria. Papers presented by Reinhard R.K. Hartmann (UK / Austria) and Gregory James (Hong Kong / UK).


§             Mini Seminars on Lexicography, April 1996, University of South Africa (UNISA) and University of Pretoria. Papers presented by Willy Martin (the Netherlands / Belgium).


§             1st International Conference on Lexicography, 1-2 July 1996, Rand Afrikaans University, Johannesburg. Keynotes presented by Herbert H. Wiegand (Germany) and Rufus H. Gouws (South Africa).


§             Mini Seminar on Lexicography, September 1996, Pretoria Technikon. Papers presented by Gregory James (Hong Kong / UK) et al.


§             Tutorial on Lexicography: Principles and Practice, 8 November 1996, University of Pretoria. Presenter: Rufus H. Gouws (South Africa).


§             Consultative Conference on the Dictionary Needs of isiNdebele, 14 March 1997, Loopspruit Wine Estate, KwaNdebele. Sponsored by the Verbatim Award administered by Euralex, and chaired by Daan Prinsloo (South Africa).


§             2nd International Conference on Lexicography, 14-15 July 1997, University of Natal, Durban. Keynotes presented by Gregory James (Hong Kong / UK) and Daan Prinsloo (South Africa).


§             Tutorial: Basic Principles and Practice of Lexicography, 16 July 1997, University of Natal, Durban. Presenters: Willem Botha, Rufus H. Gouws, Penny Silva, Dotty Mantzel and Bernd Schulz (South Africa).


§             Tutorial: Compilation of Dictionaries for African Languages, 17 July 1997, University of Natal, Durban. Presenters: Daan Prinsloo and Margaret Marggraff.


§             3rd International Conference on Lexicography, 29-30 June 1998, Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education. Keynotes presented by Sidney Landau (USA) and M.B. Kumalo (South Africa).


§             A Summary of SALEX '97 – One-Day Training Course in Lexicography, 1 July 1998, Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education.


§             Afrilex-Salex'98 – A training Course for Practising Lexicographers, 7-18 September 1998, University of Pretoria. Presenters: B.T. Sue Atkins (UK), Michael Rundell (UK) and Rufus H. Gouws (South Africa) & Daan Prinsloo (South Africa), Margaret Marggraff (South Africa), Fezi Shoba (South Africa) and Nelson Lekganyane (South Africa).


§             4th International Conference on Lexicography, 5-6 July 1999, University of Pretoria. Keynotes presented by A.C. Nkabinde (South Africa) and Gilles-Maurice de Schryver (Belgium).


§             Two-Day Tutorial on Principles, Procedures and Practice of Terminology and Terminography, 29-30 November 1999, University of Pretoria. Presenter: Mariėtta Alberts (South Africa).


§             5th International Conference on Lexicography, 3-5 July 2000, University of Stellenbosch. Conference Theme: Dictionaries for Special Purposes. Keynotes presented by Sven Tarp (Denmark) and Kathy Kavanagh (South Africa / UK).


§             Two-Day Seminar on Terminology, 28-29 May 2001, University of Pretoria. Presenters: Sven Tarp (Denmark) and Rufus H. Gouws (South Africa).


§             6th International Conference on Lexicography, 2-4 July 2001, University of the North, Pietersburg. Conference Theme: Computational Lexicography and the Development of Corpora. Keynotes presented by Gilles-Maurice de Schryver (Belgium) and Daan Prinsloo (South Africa).


§             7th International Conference on Lexicography, 8-10 July 2002, Rhodes University, Grahamstown. Conference Theme: Culture and Dictionaries. Keynotes presented by Henning Bergenholtz (Denmark), A.C. Nkabinde (South Africa) and Arvi Hurskainen (Finland).


§             Seminar on Learners’ Dictionaries, 11-12 November 2002, University of Pretoria. Presenters: Sven Tarp (Denmark), Refilwe Ramagoshi (South Africa), Daan Prinsloo (South Africa), Gilles-Maurice de Schryver (Belgium), Rufus H. Gouws (South Africa) and Mariza Steyn (South Africa).


§             6th International TAMA Conference, 17-21 February 2003, Gauteng. [Co-organised by AFRILEX.]


§             Mini-Seminar on and Launch of The First South African Online Dictionary Interface, 20 June 2003, University of Pretoria. Presenters: Kagiso Chikane (South Africa), Daan Prinsloo (South Africa), Gilles-Maurice de Schryver (Belgium), Salmina Nong (South Africa) and David Joffe (South Africa).


§             8th International Conference on Lexicography, 7-9 July 2003, University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia. Conference Theme: Bilingual Dictionaries. Keynotes presented by Uli Heid (Germany), Rufus H. Gouws (South Africa) and Gwyneth Fox (UK).



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