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European Lexicographers Support Their Georgian Colleagues

Prof. Tinatin Margalitadze, Editor in Chief and Publisher of the Comprehensive English-Georgian Online Dictionary, Research Director of the Lexicographic Centre at Tbilisi State University
Friday, October 15
In May 2010 Batumi State University hosted the first International Symposium in Lexicography, co-organised by Lexicographic Centre at Iv. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University and Arn. Chikobava Institute of Linguistics. Georgian Lexicographers convened in Batumi to address the problems of the current Georgian lexicography, as well as to develop a strategy for the further development of this important scholarly discipline in Georgia.

The participants of the Symposium stressed the importance of lexicography for the National Statehood, for the sustainable development of science and culture, school and university education. Regrettably, the present status of Georgian lexicography, which has a long history and rich heritage of tradition and experience, gives ground for serious concern. It is no secret that in respect of basic and indispensable dictionaries (bilingual, specialist, explanatory) 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.

The participants of the Symposium defined some major reasons hindering the development of lexicography in our country: lexicography is not classed among scientific categories in general and in the process of present-day contests and rating assessments in particular; lexicographers are not awarded academic (scientific) degrees for the lexicographic products they create; lexicographic work and its product are not yet entitled to the right of being competitive participants of modern grant competitions; lexicography is totally excluded from the list of State priorities, etc.

The Symposium has developed Recommendations for the Georgian Government and academic community, which must be implemented in order to save lexicography as a branch of knowledge. One of the major recommendations of the Symposium is to declare lexicography a national priority of Georgia and to develop a National Programme 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. Another important recommendation of the Symposium is connected with the status of lexicography: "Lexicographers’ 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."

The participants of the Symposium publicised a special Appeal to the Georgian Government and Academic Community.

The full text of the Appeal is available on the blog of the Comprehensive English-Georgian Online Dictionary:

In July this year, the text of the Appeal was forwarded to the Organising Commettee of the XIV International Symposium of the European Association for Lexicography (EURALEX), held in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. The organizers of the Batumi Symposium in Lexicography requested their European colleagues to discuss the Appeal of Georgian lexicographers and express their viewpoints concerning the issues raised in it. The Board of EURALEX accepted to add their voices to the Appeal for the full recognition of the discipline in Georgia. On behalf of the Board, President of EURALEX, Prof. Geoffrey Williams wrote a highly instructive letter addressed to the Georgian Government and the Academic Community.

Here are some passages from the letter.

"…In the development and maintenance of a feeling of national identity language is central, and the dictionary is the key tool to access and record that identity.

…Within academia, lexicography is frequently overlooked, relegated to being a mere craft rather than an academic discipline. Such a notion is misguided and dangerous. Lexicographers not only study language for what it is, the central tool for communication, but also provide the means by which a language, and its underlying cultural values, may be taught and given full value within a society.

… It would be a great pity that Georgia should neglect its European roots in neglecting the necessity to promote the study of its language and in particular that great cultural vehicle: the dictionary.

… the board of EURALEX accepts to add its voice to the call to the government of Georgia to give full recognition to lexicography and lexicographers in the pursuit of their endeavours and as active participants in the promotion of their language and culture as well as those values that unite us within Europe."

The full text of the letter of Prof Geoffrey Williams is available on the blog of the Comprehensive English-Georgian Online Dictionary:

Georgian lexicographers have started dialogue with the Georgian Government and the Parliament of Georgia about determining the status of Lexicography, as well as developing a National Programme in Lexicography.

Georgian lexicographers hope that their voices will be heard, as 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.