International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 305

Full Length Research Paper

Lexicographic implementation in Ethiopia: The case of three dictionaries published since 1995

Getachew Anteneh1 and Melkamu Dumessa2*
  1College of Social Sciences and Law Department of Amharic Language and Literature, Jimma University, Ethiopia. 2College of Social Sciences and Law, Department of English Language and Literature, Jimma University, Ethiopia.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 21 July 2011
  •  Published: 31 October 2011



This study analyses dictionary-making practice in Ethiopia through an examination of three dictionaries compiled in Ethiopia since 1995. The year 1995 was taken as a reference point because the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Republic Constitutional ratifications dated (1995) granted the nations, nationalities, and peoples in Ethiopia the right to use their mother tongues as a medium of instructions and for official purpose in their respective regions and zones in article five of the endorsed constitution since then. Due to this contextual background, the study delineates the dictionary making or lexicographic implementation in Ethiopia and investigates if the dictionary makers’ use and implement the principles of dictionary making in producing dictionaries such as Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Silte languages. The researchers selected three dictionaries compiled on Ethiopian languages since 1995 using simple random sampling to describe and analyze the data from these dictionaries as they were constructed in line with the principles of lexicography or dictionary making. The researchers interviewed some of the dictionary compilers and discussed with officials from dictionary compiling institutes. Then the researchers analyzed and described the gathered data to show the implementation of dictionary making in Ethiopian languages vis-a-visa the principles of dictionary making or lexicographic implementation. The researchers collected and listed most of the dictionaries published in Ethiopia since 1638 to provide background information about dictionary making experience in Ethiopia. The compilers of the dictionaries have tried to construct these dictionaries in accordance with the key principles of dictionary making. The research found that there were many shortcomings in their practical implementation of lexicographic principles of dictionary making.  The compiler of Silte-Amharic-English dictionary has constructed the dictionary in line with the principles of lexicographic implementation in comparison to the other two dictionaries compiled in Ethiopia since 1995. Furthermore, the research findings suggest that linguists should participate in dictionary making, at least by giving information (ideas) about the main principles of dictionary making by organizing different training workshop and producing manuals that dictionary compliers can refer to when they plan to make dictionaries on various Ethiopian languages.


Key words:  Lexicography, compilation, dictionary making, implementation.