The Story of the African Association for Lexicography
A FEASIBILITY STUDY FOR A LEXICOGRAPHICAL INSTITUTE
It all started with a feasibility study for a lexicographical institute for Southern Africa which was undertaken on behalf of the Board of Control of the Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal (WAT). The results indicated a keen interest in a unifying body among lexicographers and members of related professions. It was however strongly felt that such a body should not be bureaucratically structured and should not restrict individual freedom, inter alia with regard to management and control. It was therefore suggested by the research team (Dr. Mariëtta Alberts and Prof. William Branford) that a professional association for lexicography should be established to meet the needs of lexicographers as well as those of other interest groups.
TESTING THE VIABILITY OF AN ASSOCIATION FOR LEXICOGRPHY
Up to the beginning of 1995, apart from existing Dictionary Units, the interests of lexicography in South Africa had been served by the Linguistic Society of Southern Africa (LSSA) and the African Language Association of Southern Africa (ALASA). Lexicographers, however, felt the need for the establishment of an association dedicated to lexicography.
Dr. Mariëtta Alberts and Prof. Daan Prinsloo finally decided on one sunny day in March 1995 to draft a questionnaire which was mailed to members of ALASA, the LSSA, publishers, government departments and even political parties. More than 800 questionnaires were mailed. The reaction and enthusiasm expressed by the respondents was overwhelming. One respondent even remarked: "I had been praying for the establishment of such an organisation!"
THE BIG MOMENT
A target date for the establishment was set for 14 July 1995. A postal nomination and voting procedure then followed. A Board was elected by postal vote (with a ballot percentage of nearly 80%).
On 14 July 1995, at the closure of the 8th International Conference of ALASA, the big moment finally arrived. At 11 o'clock Dr. Reinhard R.K. Hartmann, who chaired the inaugural meeting, officially announced the birth of a new member of the -Lex family: THE AFRICAN ASSOCIATION FOR LEXICOGRAPHY or AFRILEX for short.
(In March 1997 Dr. Hartmann was also involved in the birth of another -Lex baby, this time the Asian Association for Lexicography (ASIALEX) and he is expected to establish an Intergalactic Association for Lexicography soon.)
THE FIRST BOARD OF AFRILEX
Chairperson: Prof. Rufus H. Gouws, Vice-Chairpersons: Mrs. Irene Dippenaar and Prof. Sizwe Satyo, Secretary-Treasurer: Dr. Mariëtta Alberts, and Conference Organiser: Prof. Daan Prinsloo. Mr. Pieter Harteveld was co-opted as Editor. Other Board Members were: Prof. Adelia Carstens, Prof. Tony Links, Prof. Louis Louwrens, Prof. Buyiswa Mini, Prof. A.C. Nkabinde, Prof. Piet Swanepoel and Dr. Dirk van Schalkwyk.
THE NAME AFRILEX
In 1991 the Bureau of the WAT took the initiative to begin publishing a journal of lexicography called Lexikos as the first in a series called AFRILEX, the acronym for "lexicography in and for Africa". Permission was given to use this name for the new association. After the establishment of the African Association for Lexicography, Lexikos also became the official mouthpiece of the Association, Afrilex.