Dictionary making in endangered speech communities


  • Ulrike Mosel


This paper discusses a number of problems which are characteristic of lexicographic work in short-term language documentation projects and addresses the following issues: co-operation with the speech community, the selection of a dialect and the challenge to produce a useful piece of work meeting the usual academic standards of lexicography in spite of limited resources of time, money and staff, and the fact that the language under study is not well researched, the linguist does not have a thorough knowledge of the language and the local assistants do not speak the lingua franca fluently. Drawing on my experience with dictionary projects in Western Samoa and Papua New Guinea, I deal in particular with orthography, the compilation of wordlists and the writing of dictionary entries. A brief discussion of the organisation of workshops and a critique of the notion of capacity building concludes the paper.


lexicographylanguage documentationchallengesspeech communitiesdialectsresourcesorthographywordlistsdictionary entriesworkshopscapacity-buildingWestern SamoaPapua New Guinea
  • Year: 2004
  • Volume: 2
  • Page/Article: 39-54
  • DOI: 10.25894/ldd289
  • Published on 31 Jul 2014