Bilingual Dictionaries for Post-colonial Africa: South African and Zimbabwean Case Studies


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


African Languages


Post-colonial language policies that seek to promote indigenous African languages, such as those espoused by constitutions of South Africa and Zimbabwe, have culminated in a lexicographic shift from bilingual dictionaries pairing indigenous languages with ex-colonial languages to comprehensive monolingual dictionaries that are envisaged to be compendiums of the African heritage associated with indigenous languages. The proposed study seeks to demonstrate the continued relevance of bilingual/multilingual dictionaries. However, new bilingual dictionaries are required whose functions are concomitant to multilingual endeavors of Africa. They should differ in orientation and outlook from the earliest bilingual dictionaries that were compiled for missionaries and colonial administrators who had to learn African languages in order to communicate with members of local communities in which they conducted their work. A close examination of bilingual dictionaries involving South African and Zimbabwean languages is conducted in order to project new visions for African lexicography.