Tones in dictionaries of the Gabonese languages: State and perspectives [Les tons dans les dictionnaires de langues Gabonaises: Situation et perspectives]

Otsaga T.A. (2002)


Until now most dictionaries that have appeared in the Gabonese languages have not really taken tonality into account in the editing of articles. But at present it is unanimously recognized that tone plays an important role in the functioning of Bantu languages in general and Gabonese languages in particular. Dictionaries which are tools in the learning, standardization, preservation and correct usage of a language can no longer neglect this aspect in their lexicographic treatment. In spite of the large number of tones present in the Gabonese languages and the difficulty of attending to all of them in the presentation of the articles, it is nevertheless necessary to find means to account for each tone, without however rendering the use of the dictionary too complicated. The objective of this article is to formulate certain directions for these dictionaries, which will make allowance for the tonality of the Gabonese languages, keeping the dictionary completely accessible to users. After having formulated these directions, our article firstly attempts to clarify the problem by analysing and enumerating the different tones identified in the Gabonese languages up till now. Moreover, we consider certain angles from which, in dictionaries, tones can be identified, by giving examples of the treatment of tonality in certain dictionaries of tonal languages other than the Gabonese languages.

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