How to use the TUKI dictionary

The following information is given in order to help the reader to use the dictionary efficiently when looking up a word or some information. But before we do that we shall define three important words: dictionary, entry and headword.

1 The Dictionary, entry and headword

A dictionary is a book of words with their lexical and grammatical meaning . It is made up of units called entries.

An entry is a block consisting of a headword and the information describing it.

A headword is the word listed in the dictionary in alphabetical order and printed in bold letters so that it can catch the eye of the reader easily when he/she looks it up. A headword in this dictionary has been entered two letters off the margin of the text of an entry as follows:

An entry may have a headword and, sub-headwords and undefined words which are also printed in bold letters but are within the entry and could be either compounds or derivatives. In the entry above, international is the headword, and sub-headwords are ~ money order, ~ism, ~ist and ~ize. The undefined words are ~ization, ~ly and ~e.

2 How to find a word in the dictionary

A headword in this dictionary is either a simple word like use or eat, a derivative like user or usage and a compound like cross country or cross check. Before you look up a word in the dictionary you should know first whether it is a simple word, a derived word or a compound word.

2.1 Simple words

A simple word is the smallest word without affixes which has a meaning of its own. For example, book, pen, use, house, boy, girl, eat, little, drive, run, small, very, educate, quick, etc., are simple words. All simple words have been entered as headwords.

2.2 Derivatives

A derivative is a word formed by adding affixes to a simple word root. For example: educate> education, educator, educational. etc. use > usage, useful, useless, used, etc. Derivatives are usually entered as run ons (sub-headwords) to the headword (which is the simple word). However sometimes a derivative may be entered as a headword if it has high occurrence in the language and a dictionary user would need to look it up often. A derivative entered as a run on to the simple word, is written as a whole word if its form has slightly changed from the basic form (simple words) as a result of the derivational process. For example: use > usage. If the derived form is made by adding a suffix to the basic form or sub-headword, the suffix is indicated after a tilde (~) representing the basic word:

intensify vt,vi ongeza, zidisha (nguvu n.k.), ongezea, zidi. intensification n intent adj intensifier n. intensity n mkazo adj - enye dhamira, -enye shauku, makini. ~ion n nia, kusudi, dhamira.... ~ ioned adj -enye nia; ...~ ional adj -a makusudi. ~ ionally adv.

2.3 Compounds

A compound word is made up of two or more words written as one word or separate words. Compounds have been entered as headwords or as run ons to a headword which is the word that makes part of the compound. A run on compound is usually not written in full. The part which refers to a headword is represented by a tilde (~). For example:

A dictionary reader looking up a derivative or a compound has to check first whether it is entered as a headword. If it is not, he/she should look up the simple word for a derivative and then look down the entry and he/she will find the word.

2.4 Homographs

Homographs are words with different meanings but have the same spelling. Such words are used in more than one grammatical category and are treated as homographs in this dictionary. They have been entered in separate entries and numbered.

It is important therefore to know the class of the word one is looking up so that he/she does not waste time looking at a different word class. The user should know the context of the word he/she is looking up so that he/she can go through the homographs quickly and identify the relevant one.

2.5 Affixes

An affix is a part of a word used to form new words. Productive affixes are usually entered as headwords. These may precede and/or follow the root and together form a new word. Affixes which precede the root are called prefixes and those attached after the root are suffixes. For example:

-ment - suff. ku-, u- -ji improve ~ kuboresha; uboreshaji
ultra- pref. -a kupita kiasi -a kuzidi mno
un- pref. (before adj. adv.) 1 sio, hapana. ~ certain si yakini,
2 (before v) tenda kinyume. ~tie fungua,
3 (before n) huonyesha kutokuwa na. ~consciousness kutokuwa na fahamu.

3 Parts of speech

Every word in this dictionary has been marked with its word class (part of speech) or grammatical category. The traditional parts of speech are: adjective (adj), adverb (adv), conjunction (conj), interjection (interj), noun (n), preposition (prep), pronoun (pron) and verb (v). Other word classes used are: indefinite article (indef art), attributive (attrib), predicative (pred), prefix intransitive (pref), intransitive verb (vi) and transitive verb (vt). A headword which functions in more than one word class but has only one meaning for each category or their definitions are related, it is labelled all the word classes simultaneously.

4 Variants

Words which have alternative spellings, have been entered either in one entry or in different entries, and one is cross-referred to the alternative spelling considered to be more accepted.

5 Cross-reference

Words which are related have been cross-referred to one another in order to show the user that they are either the same or related. Words which have been cross-referred to one another are:

  1. Words with alternative spellings
  2. Verbs of different tenses such as past tense (pt) or past participle (pp) are cross-referred to the present tense form.
  3. Words and their synonyms.

6 Usage labels

Labels are used in this dictionary to draw the attention of the user to the limitation usage of the labelled word. Labels have been used to indicate the status of a word, subject field where a word belongs, geographical region or country in which a particular word is often used, a particular period of time when it has been used, or language of origin of a word. Usage labels are printed in italic letters.

6.1 Status of words

Many words are used almost everywhere, but Some words are restricted to specific situations and audience.These are given special labels to indicate their status:

6.1.1 Formal This label denotes words which are used in official context or public occasions such as public speeches, government writing, etc.

6.1.2 Informal This label marks words or senses that are often used in conversation or in informal writings.

6.1.3 Slang This label is for words or meanings which are used very informally by groups of people of the same social status e.g. students, soldiers or criminals.

6.1.4 Derogative This label applies to words used to show disapproval of a certain behaviour or to scorn the person or thing referred to.

6.1.5 Euphemism This is used for words chosen to refer to something unpleasant in a pleasant way.

6.1.6 Vulgar It applies to words and meanings thought to be indecent and offensive to people who could be offended by them.

6.1.7 Jocular. This label is used for words or phrases intended to be funny.

6.1.8 Colloquial. It shows that a word or sense is used mostly in conversation and in informal writing.

6.2 Subject labels

Words which are used mostly in specific fields of study such as biology, zoology, legal, history, grammar, etc. are marked to indicate the context in which they are used.

6.3 Regional labels

English is used in many countries besides Great Britain: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United States, etc. Within Britain there are some variations hence Scottish English. In each region some new words or spelling of the same words or even meaning of words have developed and used in one region alone. Words and meaning specific to American, Australian, British Scottish or South African, English, have been marked (US), (Aus), (GB), Scot and (SA) respectively.

6.4 Time labels

There are words which are used for a particular period of time and then fall out of use or they are used only in special context. These are time labelled.

6.4.1 Archaic. This label means that a word or meaning which was at one time in common use is no longer used except in special contexts e.g. in poetry to reflect the past.

6.4.2 Dated. This label indicates that the word is no longer in use.

6.5 Labels of language of origin

Some words have been borrowed from other languages in recent years. The language of origin of such words has been marked.

raison de'etre n (Fr) sababu (za kuwepo kwa kitu)

7 Syntax of the verb

In the entry of a verb information is provided to show whether a verb takes an object (vt) or does not take one (vi). For example:

lumber2 vi 1 enda kwa kishindo, -wa zito the army tanks ~ed past vifaru vya kijeshi vilipita kwa kishindo.

8 Complementation

In a language there are words which always appear together. These are either fixed or optional. Many adjectives, nouns and verbs take a prepositional phrase or a non-finite construction. These fixed elements are called complementation of adjectives, nouns or verbs. In this dictionary the complementations are indicated in the entry after the word class label. The optional ones are put in parenthesis.

resolve vt
~ to do something
~ that
~ on doing something
~ something (into something)
respect n ~ (for)
have ~ for somebody
pay ~ to
with ~ to
in this ~
in all ~
without ~ to

9 Explanation of meaning

The meaning of a headword is usually a Swahili equivalent which is either one word or a phrase:

9.1 Sense discrimination

A word which has more than one meaning, its senses are provided and separated by numbers:

Senses which are closely related but slightly different are separated by asemicolon:

9.2 Sense elaboration

A gloss is an explanatory comment added to a definition or example sentence in order to make the definition clearer. Sometimes a Swahili equivalent may not be clear enough to give the reader the sense in the English word. In such cases glosses have been used to limit the scope of the definition.

10 Illustrative examples

Examples of usage help to elaborate the definition of a headword and thus make it clearer to the reader. Examples of usage also show the words which normally appear with the headword in a sentence and guide the user to make sentences of his own by analogy.

11 Collocation

Some words of a language always appear together with other words. A headword and its collocate make a collocation. For example: be on guard, change guard, keep guard, mount guard, stand guard.