The reproduction of cultural aspects in dictionaries in French and the Gabonese languages

Mavoungou P.A. ; Otsaga T.A. ; Mihindou G.-R. (2003)


The reproduction of culture in dictionaries constitutes one of the fundamental problems of lexicographers today. What is the nature of cultural data in dictionaries? To what extent should cultural aspects be transferred from one language to another? How should this transfer take place? This article attempts to discuss the relevance of the reproduction of Gabonese cultural aspects in dictionaries in French and the Gabonese languages. One of the main problems the compilers of these dictionaries encountered was the transfer and the translation of some cultural aspects. In order to discuss the nature and extent of cultural information in Gabonese dictionaries, this article will restrict itself to the following points: - The translation of different realities - The role of culture in the change of meaning - Dictionaries and cultural activities - Dictionaries and cultural ethics - Dictionaries and language registers - Dictionaries and culture maintenance - Dictionaries and the standardization of culture Prior to a discussion of the above-mentioned points, a brief description of the dictionaries investigated will be given. After a description of the influence of cultural contexts on lexicographers in the choice of macrostructural elements and their treatment, cultural differences between source and target languages in the dictionaries of Gabonese languages are discussed. The article concludes with the observation that the majority of existing lexicographic works tend to survey the full vocabulary of the language. The lexicographic treatment of some words is satisfactory because an account of the underlying worldview of the people is given. For example, in this article, the following themes are considered: dietary practices, sexuality, mythology, traditional pharmacopoeia, the kinship system, hospitality, and respect for traditional authority and elders. However, to be used in the most efficient way, these lexicographic publications need to be revised.

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