Structure of Sranan Tongo Dictionary

Flag Suriname and USWortu Buku fu Sranan Tongo
Sranan Tongo – English Dictionary
SIL International, 2007
Editor John Wilner

Part 1

 Structure of the dictionary entry
There are three kinds of entries in the dictionary: main entries, subentries, and minor entries. Main entries are full treatments of a given headword. Subentries are included within a main entry and include idioms and phrases in which the headword occurs. A minor entry is an abbreviated entry that points the reader to a main entry where more information may be found.

The headword is given in bold type. In some cases the pronunciation of a word is not predictable from the written form. (See the pronunciation guide below.) In these cases a pronunciation guide follows the headword, e.g. bongo [‘boŋ go] or golu [‘go lu] . Occasionally a headword will be followed by a small subscripted number. This indicates that a homonym exists (i.e. another word spelled and pronounced the same way). For example, there is a word lobi that means ‘love’, and another lobi that means ‘rub’. Since the meanings are not related, the words are listed as homonyms, lobi1 and lobi2.

Part of Speech
A word in Sranan Tongo can function, without any change in form, as a verb, a noun, an adjective or in other ways depending on its position in a sentence. For example:

Mi bai tu kilo sukru na wenkri. ‘I bought two kilograms of sugar at the store.’
A te sukru tumsi. ‘The tea is too sweet.’
Sukru en pikinso moro. ‘Sweeten it a little more.’
Mi gi yu a buku. ‘I gave you the book.’
Mi bai a buku gi yu. ‘I bought the book for you.’
Mi leisi a buku kba. ‘I have read the book already.’
Mi leisi a buku te na a kba. ‘I read the book up to the end.’
Mi kba leisi a buku. ‘I have finished reading the book.’

The part of speech is given following the headword. If the headword can function in more than one way, for instance as both a noun and a verb, this is indicated by numbered senses. Since the dictionary is intended for English speakers, English parts of speech are used. Sranan Tongo differs grammatically from English and has its own structure and word categories. A full description of the grammar, however, is beyond the scope of this introduction. The part of speech that follows the headword is indicative of how an English speaker would understand the word to be used, or how he would translate the concept into English.

Definitions and example sentences
After the part of speech comes a definition or a short gloss in English. Many words have a wide range of meaning, and yet these meanings are related. For example plata can mean ‘flat’, or ‘shallow’, or ‘thin’. Numbered senses, in addition to indicating that a word can function in more than one way, are used to indicate these different but related meanings.

A short definition in a second language usually cannot adequately cover the range of meaning of a given word. In order to illustrate how the headword is used in its various senses, most of the main entries include example sentences with an English translation. Because the names for plants and animals can vary even within the same language, Latin names are given to aid in proper identification.

Cross references
Various cross-references are given to point the user to other words that are semantically related to the headword. These include variants of a word (e.g. dyonsro and dyonsno ‘soon’), antonyms (opposites like faya ‘hot’ and kowru ‘cold’), synonyms (similar concepts like owru ‘old’ and grani ‘elderly’), feminine and masculine (e.g. the masculine counterpart of kaw ‘cow’ is bulu ‘bull’), and generic and specific (e.g. kloru ‘color’ is the generic term for the group that contains redi ‘red’, blaw ‘blue’ and geri ‘yellow’). When the lexical item is part of a pair, the counterpart is indicated (e.g. peiri ‘arrow’ and bo ‘bow’). The category See directs the user to words that are semantically similar but do not fit into any of the above listed categories. Finally, the user may be directed to a table where semantically related items are grouped together.

In a few cases the language from which the word originated is given. This helps to explain a few of the occurrences of homonyms. For example, kaw (1) ‘cow’ comes from the English word cow, while kaw (2) ‘chew’ comes from the Dutch word kauwen.

Many times the headword, when used in combination with particular words, will take on a distinctive meaning, or the entire phrase may have a special meaning. These are listed in bold type within the main entry. Because subentries consist of more than one word, e.g. kaka futu, they are not listed with a part of speech.

English Index

An English index is provided to aid the English speaker in finding particular words or concepts in the main part of the dictionary. The English word is followed by the part of speech and then by one or more words in Sranan Tongo. For example: grief n. row; sari1

Since some words in English can be used in different ways , the user is advised to consult each Sranan Tongo word given to determine which is the best translation for any particular sense of the English word.

The symbol ~ is used in the index to indicate where the English headword occurs in a phrase. When the English concept is translated by an idiomatic expression in Sranan Tongo, the reader is pointed to where that expression can be found in the dictionary. For example:
anger n. atibron; take out one’s ~ puru atibron tapu, SEE: atibron.

Spelling The pronunciation of vowels and consonants in Sranan Tongo is fairly straightforward. Pronunciation of the vowels a, e, i, o and u is similar to Spanish. Two other vowels appear in the orthography, è and ò. These occur in words that have recently been adopted into the language. There are six diphthongs: ai, aw, ei, èi, oi, and ow. Two other vowel combinations occur: ew and ui. These look like diphthongs but are pronounced as sequences of the two vowels. The consonant symbols used are b, d, f, g, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, w and y. Five digraphs (i.e. two letters which together represent a single sound) are also used: dy, ng, ny, sy and ty.

Words are made up of one or more syllables. Most syllables are made up of one or more consonants followed by a vowel or diphthong, as in go ‘go’, bow ‘build’ or krei ‘cry’. Syllables will sometimes end with an m or an n, as in tompu ‘stump’ or kundu ‘lump’, and, less commonly, with some other consonant, as in kapelka ‘butterfly’, marbonsu ‘a kind of wasp’, or maspasi ‘emancipation’. Stress normally falls on the second to the last syllable except in words whose final syllable ends with a nasal consonant, in which case the stress falls on the final syllable.

In normal speech one often hears lengthened vowels or consonants. These are usually the result of a vowel being elided or combined with a following vowel. There are only a very few occurrences of lengthened vowels that do not result from elision. These are indicated in the spelling with a circumflex accent, as in pôti ‘poor’. An elided vowel is indicated by an apostrophe, for example m’ma from mama ‘mother’. In compound words where two vowels are brought together in sequence, the first vowel is usually elided and the second often lengthened slightly, for example bere ‘stomach’ is combined with ati ‘pain’ to give ber’ati ‘stomachache’.

A guide to pronunciation follows the headword in the text of the dictionary only when the pronunciation cannot be readily deduced from the spelling. Syllable breaks are indicated by a space. The stressed syllable is indicated by an apostrophe (‘) preceding the syllable. A lengthened vowel or consonant is indicated in the pronunciation field by a raised dot after the letter, e.g. ed’ati [ed ‘a· ti], or mamanten [‘m·an teŋ].

The digraphs ng and ny are normally syllable-initial consonants, as in nanga [‘na ŋa] ‘and, with’ and nyan [nʸaŋ] ‘eat’. In a few instances a written ng actually represents a combination of a syllable-final n followed by a syllable-initial g sound. For example tongo ‘tongue, language’ is pronounced [‘to ŋo], whereas bongo ‘a kind of drum’ in pronounced [‘boŋ go]. The spelling commission, in order to avoid the use of double letters, chose not to represent this difference in the orthography.

The consonants k and g are sometimes pronounced [tʃ] and [dʒ] when preceding i or e. For example gi ‘give’ and geri ‘yellow’ are sometimes pronounced [‘dʒi] or [‘dʒe ři]. Similarly, triki ‘trick’ is sometimes pronounced [‘tři tʃi]. In order to promote consistency in spelling, the commission recommended that such words be written with k and g. There are some words that begin with a [tʃ] or [dʒ] sound before an i or e, such as dyindya, dyeme and tyen, that are never pronounced with a g or k. These words are written as they are consistently pronounced. In a few cases s is sometimes pronounced [ʃ] when preceding i or e. For example si ‘see’ is sometimes pronounced [ʃi] and s wen ‘swim’ is sometimes pronounced [ʃweŋ].

Continued – Part 3



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