Universiteit Leiden

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Some issues involved in making a Hamar lexicon

  • Jean Lydall
Friday 2 December 2016
Friday Afternoon Lectures
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


A number of Hamar people are struggling with the formal educational system of Ethiopia, which negates Hamar language, and uses unfamiliar Amharic and English words. These people are urgently demanding a Hamar dictionary to help them take advantage of education and the global, internet world. In my talk I will consider questions and issues that need to be answered in the process of producing an appropriate lexicon/dictionary. Thankfully, Sara Petrollino, forty years after I wrote the first grammatical sketch of Hamar language, has now produced a comprehensive reference grammar, which will help us enormously to decide about what orthography and which grammatical categories to employ. Other issues include how to compile word-lists (thematically or alphabetically); whether to start with Hamar word lists, or with basic English and/or Amharic ones; how many examples from recorded speech (of which I have plenty) should we include; what computer programs are available for both the compilation and use of the lexicon, etc.

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