This aim of this article, which forms part of a bigger project on the role of Stellenbosch University’s Department of Afrikaans and Dutch in the development of Afrikaans lexicography, is to give an overview of this department’s involvement in the comprehensive Afrikaans descriptive dictionary, the Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (Dictionary of the Afrikaans Language; henceforth WAT) and its subsequent role in the development of Afrikaans lexicography. The Department of Afrikaans and Dutch’s relationship with the WAT starts with J.J. Smith. After Smith was appointed as the first lecturer in Afrikaans at Stellenbosch University in 1920, he was approached by the Nasionale Pers to help with compiling an Afrikaans dictionary. After the university granted Smith special permission, he started work on the envisioned Afrikaans dictionary in 1926. Smith’s material for compiling the dictionary consisted of numerous word lists that he had collected with the help of his students in Afrikaans at Stellenbosch University from 1920. Other lecturers in the department that were tasked with helping Smith collecting material for the dictionary were B.A. de Wet and F.E.J. Malherbe. They also used their students to help them with material collection. This intensive collection of material led to the fact that the dictionary was not being anywhere near completion after three years, as had been initially planned.
Another factor that delayed the dictionary’s progress was the conflict between Smith and the official authority on Afrikaans spelling, the Taalkommissie (Language Commission) of the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (South African Academy for Science and the Arts). Smith, who was a member of the Taalkommissie who had compiled the very first Afrikaanse woordelys en spelreëls (Afrikaans word list and spelling rules; henceforth AWS) in 1917, decided to go against the spelling rules as set out in the AWS. Smith decided to keep the orthography of unfamiliar words closer to that of Dutch in the WAT. The Taalkommissie, however, followed a more Afrikaans orthography. Although Smith’s orthography was finally rejected, even by Stellenbosch University, he was allowed to follow his more “Dutch” orthography in compiling the dictionary. By 1945, when Smith stepped down as editor of the WAT, the dictionary had, however, still not been completed.
After Stellenbosch University offered to take over responsibility for the dictionary and a number of shifts were made in the organisational structure of the WAT, the first volume of the WAT (A–C) was finally published in 1950. The envisaged concise Afrikaans dictionary has since grown into a comprehensive, multivolume Afrikaans descriptive dictionary with Volume II (D–F) having been published in 1955, Volume III (G) in 1957, Volume IV (H–I) in 1961, Volume V (J–KJ) in 1968, Volume VI (KLA–KOL-) in 1976, Volume VII (KOM–KOR-) in 1984, Volume VIII (KOS–KYW-) in 1991, Volume IX (L) in 1994, Volume X (M) in 1996, Volume XI (N–O) in 2000, Volume XII (P–Q) in 2005, Volume XIII (R) in 2009, and Volume XIV (S–SKOOI) in 2013.
Partly due to Smith’s “Dutch” approach to the Afrikaans orthography, especially the first three volumes of WAT are characterised by the inclusion of Dutch lemmas that never became part of the Afrikaans lexicon. The WAT was also criticised, especially by lecturers of Stellenbosch University’s Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, for the “Dutchness” of the definitions in WAT, as well as the excessive use of translated example sentences from Dutch. As the years went by and more volumes of the WAT appeared, this Dutch influence on the dictionary was, however, decreased and as the WAT came into its own, it made (in part due to its relationship with the Department) a valuable contribution to Afrikaans lexicography.
The first area in which the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch contributed to the development of Afrikaans lexicography through its involvement with the WAT is Afrikaans metalexicography. It was especially lecturers of the Department commenting on the various volumes of the WAT in reviews that served as a stimulus for Afrikaans metalexicography. This, in turn, had a positive impact on the content of subsequent volumes of the WAT. Apart from reviews of the WAT, other metalexicographical activities by lecturers and students of the Department include masters and doctoral studies on various aspects of the WAT.
Another area of Afrikaans lexicography in which Stellenbosch University’s Department of Afrikaans and Dutch indirectly played an important role, was the strategic planning of the WAT. During the 1980s a comprehensive project was launched to bring the content of the WAT in line with theoretical lexicography, thus improving the quality of the dictionary, and to speed up work on the WAT. This project was led by D.J. van Schalkwyk, who was also a lecturer in the Department from 1971 to 1978. In addition to focusing on the external reflexive component of the WAT, in which lectures from the Department played an important role (see above), Van Schalkwyk also involved experts in the field of lexicography, which included two lecturers of the Department, J.G.H. Combrink and R.H. Gouws. This resulted in the compilation of an editorial system for the WAT which was implemented from Volume IX onwards. Secondly, this project also included the revision of the dictionary’s policy regarding the treatment of pejorative or offensive lexical items, which represented a first in the international lexicography. Another aspect of this project included the establishment of so-called co-operative lexicography, which involved establishing contact with various other national and international lexicography projects. The board of the WAT also had a hand in establishing the African Association for Lexicography, and the Bureau of the WAT played an important supporting role in the establishment of the National Dictionary Units that was created by the Pan South-African Language Board (PanSALB) after 2000. Van Schalkwyk also assisted with the strategic planning of other local language bodies, as well as international dictionaries. Furthermore, the Bureau of the WAT plays an important role in training lexicographers from around the country and the world. In turn, the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch has played an important role in training lexicographers working at the Bureau of the WAT over the years. The personnel of the Bureau have also had a hand in various other dictionaries being published – often in conjunction with lecturers of the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch. Lastly, under the leadership of Van Schalkwyk the Bureau also contributed to the launching the international lexicography journal Lexikos. Students and lecturers of the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch have made an important contribution to the international metalexicography by publishing various articles and reviews in Lexikos over the years – about 40% of the articles to be exact. Various lectures and students have also been editors of and served on the editorial board of the journal.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, is the WAT’s role in recording the Afrikaans lexicon in its widest sense. This includes lexical items from spoken as well as written Afrikaans, regionalism, idioms, as well as loan words from Khoi, Malay, Arabic and English.
Over the years the vast majority of personnel of the Bureau of the WAT have been graduates of Stellenbosch University, who had often also studied in its Department of Afrikaans and Dutch. This includes all the editors-in-chief. Various lecturers at Stellenbosch University have also served as subject specialists, helping editors with subject-specific content as well as terminology lists. Here, too, lecturers of the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch have played a role. Lecturers of this Department have also served on the dictionary’s board of directors since its inception. Finally, Stellenbosch University has supported the WAT financially over the years.
That Stellenbosch University’s Department of Afrikaans and Dutch has played an indispensible role in the activities of the Bureau of the WAT, thus contributing to the development of Afrikaans lexicography, is, therefore, very clear.
Keywords: Department of Afrikaans and Dutch; dictionary planning; Dutch-Afrikaans battle; Dutch influence; lexicography; lexicon; metalexicography; J.J. Smith; Stellenbosch University; D.J. van Schalkwyk; Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (Dictionary of the Afrikaans Language)
Lees die volledige artikel in Afrikaans: Die rol van die Universiteit Stellenbosch se Departement Afrikaans en Nederlands in die ontwikkeling van die Afrikaanse leksikografie deur sy betrokkenheid by die Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal