The Longman-HAT Basic, School and Pocket Dictionary
The only English-Afrikaans/Afrikaans-English school dictionaries with definitions
Beginner learners prefer bilingual dictionaries
The significance of bilingual dictionaries in second- and foreign-language acquisition is widely recognised today. Research has shown that the majority of learners – especially beginner learners – prefer bilingual dictionaries to monolingual dictionaries, and modern lexicographical theories have contributed to a considerable improvement of these dictionaries over the last decades. However, such improvements aren’t yet universal, and especially the small, inexpensive bilinguals that many language learners use, have come in for some criticism.
New translation tools
In 2008 Pearson Education South Africa became the newest publisher to start making local dictionary products for the South African school and learners’ market. At the end of 2009 the HAT Afrikaanse Skoolwoordeboek was published, a monolingual Afrikaans dictionary aimed at learners from Grades 5 to 12. Subsequently the Pearson team embarked on creating their first set of bilingual English-Afrikaans/Afrikaans-English dictionaries, which resulted in the Longman HAT Basic Dictionary and the Longman-HAT School Dictionary and Longman-HAT Pocket Dictionary – translation tools which we hope can contribute to speeding up and improving learner’s acquisition of Afrikaans or English.
For different users
In South Africa there is no question that, generally speaking, speakers of Afrikaans today have a much higher level of fluency in English than speakers of English have in Afrikaans. But there are exceptions, and it is also safe to say that there are cases, especially in rural areas, where speakers of Afrikaans, in turn, still have a very low fluency in English. Our Longman-HAT dictionaries are directed at both these groups: learners of English who are relatively fluent in Afrikaans, and learners of Afrikaans who are relatively fluent in English.
The needs of these different user groups are similar, but not the same. They find themselves in similar but also dissimilar situations. They come from various backgrounds, are facing each other, wanting to communicate, but are looking in different directions. Furthermore, the potential users of these dictionaries will belong to different age groups (from 10 years upwards), and will not be equally skilled in using a dictionary. Some of them will have well-developed dictionary skills; others may have only very basic skills or not any dictionary-using skills at all!
As much assistance as possible
Thus our challenge: How to create affordable products to provide the target users with as much assistance as possible in different situations. What we wanted to achieve by compiling our first Longman-HAT bilingual dictionaries was to create two new tools to try out – for users of English as a launch pad into Afrikaans, and for users of Afrikaans as a launch pad into English; dictionaries that can also be used for teaching dictionary skills.
From the world's leading education company
Although the Longman-HAT Basic, School and Pocket Dictionary are Pearson’s first bilingual English-Afrikaans/Afrikaans-English dictionaries, we were fortunate in that we did not have to compile these dictionaries completely from scratch. As Pearson Education South Africa is part of the larger Pearson group, the world’s leading education company, we had available to us many of Longman Dictionaries’ resources. From already existing Longman material we were able to select some of the building blocks for our new bilinguals.
The Longman Communication 3000
To start with, for the Basic Dictionary we decided to concentrate on the words designated as S1 in the Longman Communication 3000 – a list of the 3 000 most frequent words in both written and spoken English as determined by statistical analysis of the 390 million words contained in the Longman Corpus Network. In the Longman Communication 3 000 the words considered the most important for verbal communication in English are marked by an S1 symbol. These top thousand most frequent words in spoken English and their primary meanings are at the core of the Longman-HAT Basic Dictionary.
For each of the S1 words we took the corresponding article from the Longman South African School Dictionary (LSASD) and used it as basis for our new bilingual article or entry. However, this by no means implies that all we did or had to do was simply translate the English articles word for word into Afrikaans. The School Dictionary articles merely served as starting blocks.
English and Afrikaans as language pair
The microstructure of each article had to be chopped and changed to tie in with the design of our new bilinguals to cater for differences unique to English and Afrikaans as language pair and offer solutions that will enable the user to bridge those differences.
Many words have several possible translations. For such words, we picked the one or two most usual ones (in terms of frequency of occurrence) and gave the translation with the highest frequency first. Then, suitable example sentences and phrases were carefully chosen from our English and Afrikaans corpuses.
Longman Corpus Network
In adapting and changing the articles to match English meanings and nuances to Afrikaans meanings and nuances, and illustrate the use of the headword and its translation equivalent(s) with good examples, we relied heavily on the Longman Corpus Netwerk and Longman Corpus Query Tools, as well as on our Maskew Miller Longman corpus of school text books and readers. We used these corpuses (along with the Longman Basic Dictionary, a monolingual English dictionary) to establish the primary meanings of the headwords, and as far as possible also tried to stick to authentic South African and Namibian examples.
Of course, not all the words used in our examples are headwords in the dictionary. But we have tried to keep sentences and phrases as simple as possible. In addition, as far as it was possible, we tried to keep the English and Afrikaans word order the same, or at least more or less similar, to aid understanding and vocabulary building.
In the case of a monolingual learner’s dictionary the compulsory default microstructure is:
headword + part of speech + definition + example(s).
In the case of a bilingual dictionary the compulsory default microstructure is:
headword + part of speech + translation(s) + example(s).
What distinguishes our Longman-HAT dictionaries from the most from other English-Afrikaans/Afrikaans-English dictionaries currently on on the market, are their default microstructures.
In the School and Pocket Dictionary:
headword + part of speech + defintion + translation(s) + example(s).
And in the Basic Dictionary: h
headword + part of speech + definition + defintion + translation(s) + example(s).
In the Longman-HAT School Dictionary every translation is introduced by a clear, simple definition or synonym in the source language, and in the Longman-HAT Basic Dictionary translations are introduced by short explanations or synonyms in both the source and the target language.
Through these bilingual definitions Longman-HAT bilingual dictionaries additionally serve as explanatory dictionaries that guide learners of English and Afrikaans to the exact translation for each meaning of a headword.
Various typographical and non-typographical indicators are employed to enhance the optimal retrieval of information. Where headwords have more than one meaning, the different meanings are numbered. In the Longman-HAT Basic Dictionary, the entry for each meaning starts on a new line, making it easy for users to find the correct translation (in bold face) quickly. Parts of speech and inflected forms are also as easy to find.
Of course, we hope that users will read both the monolingual and bilingual parts of the entry, but we suspect they will not always want to do that. So, we have made it easy to distinguish between the different parts of an entry. Should users prefer to do so, they can select at glance and focus only on the bits of the entry they feel they need. In the Basic Dictionary Afrikaans learners can, for example, skip the English definition (in small capital letters) and go straight to the Afrikaans definition (also in small capital letters, but shaded grey). The English learner can do the opposite. Or they can skip both definitions and go straight ahead to the translation (in bold italics, preceded by an arrow). Thus, sadly of course, missing the potential benefits of reading at least one of the two definitions provided.
With the texts and data included in the front and back matter, as well as in the middle section, we add further value to each dictionaries. In addition to the A-to-Z listings, the Longman-HAT Basic Dictionary features a picture dictionary; a thematic dictionary; a quick-reference section at the back containing basic information about South Africa and Namibia; common abbreviations listed on the inside of the front and back covers; a usage guide; and activity sections following on the English-Afrikaans and Afrikaans-English search parts. The Longman-HAT School Dictionary also includes a section on essential communication.
Unfortunately, as the dictionaries grow bigger and we want to extend the macrostructure of the printed dictionaries but keep the page extent and price under control, we will have to scale down on the monolingual part.
Fortunately, freed from the space restrictions of the printed book, in the online versions of all our dictionaries (click on Online dictionaries above), we are able to offer much more than in the printed formats! For one, there is no need to scale down on the monolingual part. In our electronic dictionaries both the English and the Afrikaans definitions are retained throughout.