The development of the description of the Ngbaka language occured over many years, with the help of many people.
Father Marcel Henrix (1928-2015), of the Belgian Catholic Missionaries of Scheut (CICM), worked among the Ngbaka in northwestern Congo from 1954 until his definitive return to Belgium in 2005. During these 51 years he collected a vast amount of material for a Ngbaka dictionary. In 2000, a first edition of this was published by Ghent University, which contained 277,000 headwords. During the next 15 years, he continued collecting many corrections and additions. The last year of his life he was working on a second edition, which a few weeks before his death he called "as good as ready". He indicated to Michael Meeuwis (Ghent University) and his nephew Peter Vanhoutte what remained to be done, that is the introduction, the organization of the lexicographic material, and linguistic corrections. After his death on 13 March 2015, Meeuwis and Vanhoutte finalized the manuscript and submitted it to Lincom Academic Publishers (Munich, Germany), where it appeared towards the middle of 2015 (Dictionnaire Ngbaka-Français, Deuxième édition revue et augmentée." ISBN: 978-386288640-1. See http://lincom-shop.eu/ .). Compared to the 2000 edition, the 2015 edition contained multiple corrections and additions, and was enriched with a large amount of terms and expressions collected during research in different areas of Ngbaka life. The number of headwords increased from 277,000 to over 380,000.
During his years of work in northwestern Congo, he collaborated closely with Margaret Hill and other researchers. This group after his death transferred the lexicographical data to electronic forms. Mission Assist UK (formerly Wycliffe Associates) typed up much of the material. When the Multi-lingual Education (MLE) program was started in Ngbaka schools, it was considered helpful to have a digital version of Marcel Henrix's dictionary that would be easier for people to use. For example, the original has 5, 6 meanings for some words with 10-12 examples. The English translation of the original French equivalents of the Ngbaka headwords were done so that English speakers could use the data.
This online edition of the Ngbaka dictionary is the result of data collection done by compilers Marcel Henrix, Michael Meeuwis, and Peter Vanhoutte. It is a comprehensive volume with words and their definitions as well as example sentences. The search function allows researchers to find in Ngbaka corresponding to a word in French.
Language is an expression of culture. When a language is used for educational and communication purposes, it allows its speakers to advance in many spheres of life in society. We appreciate those who have helped the Ngbaka language to be preserved.
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