Honderd jaar Afrikaanse Woordelys en Spelreëls – ’n oorsig en waardering. Deel 2 : Die gebruiker in fokus

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Peer-Reviewed Research

Abstract:

This article is the second in a series of two concerned with the word list section of the Afrikaanse Woordelys en Spelreëls (AWS). The online version of the word list section was released to users in 2010, shortly after the tenth version of the AWS was published in 2009. This version of the 2009 Woordelys is the focus of the current article. We investigate the Woordelys from a user perspective and contextualise our study against the background of the rapid development of e-lexicography, and the possibilities opened up by the availability of online lexicographic reference sources. We start our investigation with a critical evaluation from the perspective of the user of the Woordelys. In our evaluation we refer to the implications of the unavailability of the Afrikaans spelling rules to the online user, the inadequacy of the software underpinning the online version of the Woordelys, and lastly, we comment on the fact that no typographical distinction is made within the articles between different data types. Secondly, we discuss the status of the Woordelys as lexicographic information source. In the third section we focus on the user of the Woordelys viewed against the backgound of the information needs of the user in the information era. Analysis of logfiles is a relatively new technique for obtaining information on the real information needs of the user. Based on such analysis, we conclude that the needs of the user of the Woordelys are not restricted to seeking information on spelling of specific words only – users of the Woordelys have far more sophisticated needs than those pertaining exclusively to spelling. By compiling a corpus of unedited writing by Afrikaansspeaking students, we were able to identify words which are often misspelled and which consequently are suitable candidates for inclusion in future versions of the Woordelys. We conclude that the current online version of the Woordelys – despite being a valuable reference work – does not provide adequately for the information needs of the modern user. In terms of the function theory – one of the modern theories of lexicography – lexicographic information sources should not only provide cognitive information, but should also provide clear guidance with regard to text production. Provision of this kind of information should be a consideration when a revised version of the Woordelys is planned. Apart from making a number of recommendations with regard to a more functional lemma selection, we also recommend the use of a lexicographic ruler, although the relevance of such a ruler for the Woordelys, which could be seen as a kind of special dictionary, has not yet been ascertained. Currently, there is a good correlation between the predictions made by the ruler for Afrikaans and the actual alphabetical stretches covered in the Woordelys. We conclude with a number of suggestions which could assist in the creation of an improved online version of the old familiar Woordelys, which could serve its users well in the next hundred years.