What’s Up Now?

The previous post gave a lengthy account of the history of my lexicographical work. The stage I am involved in now, being about halfway through, is the final edit of the Mampruli Dictionary

  • The Dagbani Dictionary was in some sense wished upon me. It has the largest wordlist, the longest history of development, the largest number of compilers, and the largest text base for the provision of examples [Mampruli has more types of text, but with the whole Bible published Dagbani has the larger size]. In working through it I met most of the possible situations and problems for this sort of lexicon and developed micro- and macro-structures to deal with them.  The other languages can now be edited to conform to the Dagbani pattern or a subset of it.
  • The dictionaries of Mõõré, KaMara, Kantoosi, Talni and Nabit were edited to limited Dagbani standard (few or no citations).
  • Mampruli is the last Western Oti-Volta (W.O/V) language lexicon where my data and competencies are fairly irreplaceable if something of this calibre is to be produced at the present time.
  • For the remaining W.O/V languages I will not have any significant independent data to input, but will rather be editing other people’s material to match the format of the above dictionaries. Inserting the thesaurus keys will be the most important part for my own concerns. As each dictionary is completed I extract the basic wordlist with thesaurus keys and merge it into the growing comparative dictionary database. In order to complete the comparative work according to the intended plan all the language dictionaries will need to be merged in and the database processed for suitable output.
  • Whether my mental and physical powers will hold up until the whole is completed is a moot point.

As the Mampruli Project unrolled between 1974 and 2004, the dictionary was built up, first on filecards and later as an electronic database. From time to time during the years I was working on the Dagbani Dictionary I snatched a little time to work on a few Mampruli entries. The result of this piecemeal updating is that formatting both across and within entries showed a wild variety of ‘legacy’ approaches.  To lighten the packing load at the end of my time of residence in Ghana I collated in the contents of one tray of filecards, covering letters P – Z, and jettisoned that half of the cards. So what I am doing now involves:

  • Working through the dictionary one entry at a time in order from A  to  Z .
  • Formatting the existing entry according to the final entry-structure that I have developed.
  • Adding any necessary fields which are missing, especially thesaurus keys and ‘lexical functions’ – links in meaning such as between synonyms, or antonyms, causatives (like ‘fall’ and ‘fell’), and a number of other sense-relations.
  • Searching for examples of the word in use, and for any words not yet in the database:
    • In the remaining cardfile – oral material noted down during my 30-year stay in Gbeduuri.
    • In the published New Testament and other Bible material.
    • In the Collection of Mampruli proverbs collected by R.P. Xavier Plissart and in course of editing by TN.
    • In the published texts of the Mampruli Literacy Project.
    • In some of the oral texts which I recorded and transcribed in the course of studying the language.
  • Pruning and adding cross-reference entries directing searches for variants and oblique forms (similar to ‘men’ of “man”, ‘brought’ of “bring”).

Starting at the beginning of 2015, I hoped to complete the Mampruli in two years. In fact I have carried this process to halfway before the end of October, so am fairly happy with progress.  I estimate that the total number of entries will be about 7000 (currently 6944, but they go up and down with pruning and adding). I have now reached #3502. Main entries will make up 2600-odd if the ratio of main to cross-refs. stays the same. In the ‘published’ version I would include variants and irregular forms (like ‘went’ of “go”) which would project at 5200.

A digital ‘printout’ of the present stage with the first half basically completed has been posted on my technical website :  Aardvarks Mampruli[Divided into 4 files Mampruli-English, one English – Mampruli index, because of file-size constraints]


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