In recent months three large Australian bilingual dictionaries have been published, after decades of preparation. Some of their attributes are compared in the table below.
First, consider what the three works have in common. All were begun more than half a century ago, by trained linguists in collaboration with many named native speakers of the particular language. There are many cross-references between entries, and there is extensive use of example sentences to illustrate senses.
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|language||Pintupi-Luritja Dictionary. Fourth edition.||Warlpiri Encyclopaedic Dictionary||A New Grammar of Dyirbal. Supplements.|
|begun||1966 by Ken & Lesley Hansen||1959 by †Ken Hale||1963 by Bob Dixon|
|arrangement||alphabetical, with English alphabetical finder||alphabetical, with English alphabetical finder, and scientific name index||thesaurus of nominals (b) and verbals (c), with Dyirbal alphabetical finder (d)|
|entries||“over 10,000” [back cover]|
10,970 entries (no subentries)
|11,152 entries and subentries, and a further 1362 senses||(b), (c): too complex to count|
(d): over 4000
|scope||Old and Young language;|
includes pronouns, demonstratives. many suffixes, some placenames
includes bound pronouns, nominal suffixes, about 450 placenames
not included are pronouns, noun markers, verb markers, demonstratives, etc.; proper nouns
|pages||2273 = 8 front matter + 2121 main body + 144 English finder|
(in two volumes A-P and R-Y)
|1447 total =|
xv + 1416 + 16
(1188 main body, 133 finder)
(b): xv + 413
(c): xii + 227 + 
(d): 238 + 12
portrait finder & prefaces
|font size||approx 12 pt headword|
approx 10 pt body
|10.25 pt headword|
9.75 pt body
|page size||A4 210 x 297 mm||213 x 273 mm||NA (A4 PDF)|
|graphics||none||line drawings through main body; 16 pages of colour images; 3 kinship diagrams||none|
|mass||6.6 kg = 3.4 + 3.2||2.8 kg||NA|
|retail price||$135||$59.95 hardcover;|
ePDF and epub TBA
(including ‘road’ entry)
|page 2025||page 1162||(b) page 196|
A couple of other sizeable bilingual dictionaries also appeared in the last months of 2022. after many decades work:
- 430 pages Gija Dictionary, begun in the 1970s by Frances Kofod
- 1321 pages in two volumes: Words of Waya: a Dictionary of the Wayan Dialect of the Western Fijian Language by Andrew Pawley and Timoci Sayaba; begun in 1967; the 6th and final version
We can expect it will be a long time before any of these dictionaries are ‘refreshed’, to use Nick Thieberger’s term. Even so, we note Nick’s appeal for ‘dictionary creators to archive their primary files’.
4 thoughts on “Three hefty lexica”
The work on the Warlpiri bilingual dictionary by Dr Mary Laughren, Dr David Nash and Dr Jane Simpson is an excellent contribution. We are sure that Warlpiri people, groups of Pintupi-Luritja people and many others will be very grateful that this dictionary is now available.
The Gija Dictionary is celebrated in Michael Dillon’s essay ‘A dictionary for the future’ (Inside Story !st February 2023)
“The Gija Dictionary opens a window on the sophisticated culture of the people of the East Kimberley”
An abridged version of this post has been published in Ogmios 74,15-16.
The 2003 Ngaanyatjarra and Ngaatjatjarra to English dictionary has now been published online
Glass, Amee and Hackett, Dorothy. 2023. Ngaanyatjarra – English Dictionary. Webonary.org. SIL International. https://www.webonary.org/ngaanyatjarra/
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