I have already told you about the EURALEX Congress. I have also informed you about the 25-volume explanatory dictionary of the Frisian language. The honorary mission of inaugurating the online version of the said Dictionary was carried out by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Back in 1930s, in the Netherlands there was established the Fryske Akademie (the Frisian Academy) with the purpose of studying the Frisian language, as well as the history, literature and culture of the people of Friesland. It was the Fryske Akademie which hosted the traditional Congress of the European Association for Lexicography (EURALEX) in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. Hitherto, the said Academy has published up to 1000 books about the Frisian history, culture and literature; it has also composed dictionaries of the Frisian language, including the abovementioned Explanatory Dictionary.
And what is the situation in Georgia in this respect?
Today we have to discuss what the status of the Georgian Institute of Linguistics should be and whether it must be incorporated by some university, or continue to exist independently. Remember, we are talking about the Institute, wherein the Comprehensive Explanatory Dictionary of the Georgian language was composed in 1950s-60s under the general editorship of acad. Arnold Chikobava and where the work on the new version of the said Dictionary is being carried out now!
In May this year, Georgian lexicographers convened in Batumi to attend Batumi I International Symposium in Lexicography and to address the problems of this field of knowledge, as well as to discuss the prospects and possible ways of development of lexicography in Georgia. The participants of the Symposium adopted a document of major significance for the history of the modern Georgian lexicography: The Appeal of Georgian Lexicographers to the Georgian Government and the Academic Community. This Appeal, in a very brief and condensed form, describes the importance of lexicography for the National Statehood and for the sustainable development of science and culture, school and university education, as well as the difficulties hindering the development of this very important discipline in Georgia.
Here follows the text of the said Appeal.
Appeal of Georgian Lexicographers to the Georgian Government and the Academic Community
One of the main characteristic features of present-day lexicography is the synthesis of philological science and culture, in the widest meaning of the term “culture”. Significant part of the culture of any nation is materialized by means of its language, and the language itself is enshrined in the dictionaries of the language concerned.
The recognition of the special role of dictionaries as the works expressive of the cultural identity of each particular nation, as well as the new awareness of cultural and political (strategic) importance of dictionary corpora, led to an unprecedented upsurge of lexicographic activities in Europe and in the United States. Numerous lexicographic centres have been established, the scope of theoretical and research work in the field of lexicography has widened significantly, the types and variety of dictionaries published have also increased. The level of lexicography is seen as one of the main criteria indicative of the level of development of European countries.
As compared with the situation described above, the present status of Georgian lexicography, which has a long history and rich heritage of tradition and experience, gives ground for serious concern. Regrettably, the colossal toil of lexicographers remains almost totally unappreciated in present-day Georgia. Namely:
- Essentially, the result of lexicographic work is not classed among scientific categories in general and in process of present-day contests and rating assessments in particular. This happens despite the fact that a dictionary entry often implies even higher scholarly qualification than any specific research article does;
- Lexicographic work and its product are not yet entitled to the right of being competitive participants of modern grant competitions;
- Remuneration for the utterly laborious toil of lexicographers is absolutely inadequate, compelling them to earn livelihood by means of carrying out other activities;
- Lexicographers are not awarded academic (scientific) degrees for the lexicographic products they create; and
- Lexicography is totally excluded from the list of State priorities.
The future of the Georgian State language, as well as its equal and dignified partnership with the leading languages of the world, wholly depends on the development of modern lexicography in our country.
It is no secret that in respect of basic and indispensable dictionaries we currently fall far behind the level which is required of any country of well-developed scholarship according to European standards. In the course of time, this gap is gradually becoming irremediable.
Under the given circumstances, lexicography as a branch of knowledge is exposed to imminent danger of breakdown. If the Georgian society and the Georgian State fail to adequately realize the importance of lexicography for the National Statehood, for the development of science and culture and for school and university education, unless adequate steps are taken in order to save lexicography as a branch of knowledge, we shall finally abandon our aspiration for real integration into European scientific and educational community, abandon our ambition of further developing our national language and culture in compliance with European requirements.
The I International Lexicographic Symposium in Batumi has developed Recommendations to the Georgian Government, the Georgian National Academy of Sciences, to research institutes and universities, which must be implemented in order to save lexicography as a branch of knowledge:
- Lexicography must be declared a national priority of Georgia. A National Programme must be developed for the enhancement of lexicographic activity, comprising explanatory and historic dictionaries of the Georgian language, specialist terminological dictionaries, as well as translation (bilingual) and electronic lexicography;
- The National Lexicographic Programme and relevant projects must be adequately funded by the State;
- Lexicographer’s work must be regarded as scientific activity, and lexicographic products (dictionary entries, dictionaries) must be regarded as pieces of scientific work, for which lexicographic scholars must be awarded relevant academic (scientific) degrees;
- Special academic curricula must be introduced in universities in order to train future lexicographers;
- Lexicographic projects must be implemented with high academic level ensured; in order to maintain adequate scientific quality, a relevant procedure and mechanism must be developed for expert evaluation (within the framework of the abovementioned National Programme); and
- More ample media coverage must be given to this field of scientific and culturological activity, in order to ensure an adequate presentation thereof to the public.
Posted by Tinatin Margalitadze on 22 September, 2010 20:16