Archive for the ‘crowdsourcing’ Category

Wikipedia as a tool to revive Aymara

9 September 2012

Wikipidiya, the Aymara language version of Wikipedia, has 2273 articles, and the Aymara Wiktionary has 27.

The Ethnologue cites 2.2 million speakers of Central Aymara (ayr) and 220,000 speakers of Southern Aymara (ayc), but is losing ground to Spanish.

Most of the speakers live in Bolivia. Under the presidency of Aymara native Evo Morales, a new constitution was adopted in 2009 that made 36 indigenous languages official, along with Spanish.

As part of the movement to revitalize Aymara, the group Jaqi Aru works to update the Aymara vocabulary in such places as Wikipedia and Global Voices. To learn more about their efforts, read “Bolivians equip ancient language for digital times.” (Please note that the numbers of speakers cited there diverge greatly from the Ethnologue.)

The English language version of Wiktionary has only a few Aymara word entries, but does have quite a few tokens in the Aymara Swadesh word list.

See also Jaqi Aru, the Jaqi Aru Twitter page and the Jaqi Aru Facebook page.

Wikipedia in Chinuk Wawa

29 July 2012

In December 2008, a trial was begun to see if a viable Chinuk Wawa or Chinook Jargon (chn) version of Wikipedia could be launched.

According to Catanalysis, there are 37 articles to date. Do you know Chinuk Wawa? Maybe you could create the 38th article.

Another article on LiveAndTell

6 July 2011

How Do You Save a Dying Language? Crowdsource It” on the Good site.

LiveAndTell – crowdsourcing languages

1 July 2011

Biagio Arobba has created a website named LiveAndTell as a way for people to post pictures with accompanying sound files and sentences. He is also a contributor to his website, as demonstrated by his Lakota (lkt) examples at “My everyday Lakota language practice.”

Read more about the site in the article “LiveAndTell, a Crowdsourced Quest to Save Native American Languages” on the Fast Company website.

Promoting Klingon

1 May 2011

As per the announcement “qep’a’ wa’maH chorghDIch,” the eighteenth annual meeting of the non-profit Klingon Language Institute will meet in Reno, Nevada, US from August 14 to 18, 2011.

Klingon (tlh) is a conlang, or constructed language, first created for “Star Trek: the Motion Picture” by actor James Doohan (Scotty) and subsequently developed for other “Star Trek” movies and shows by Marc Okrand. Other examples of constructed languages are Esperanto (epo) and Ido (ido). Esperanto is the only constructed language listed in the current version of the Ethnologue.

Readers may wonder whether a fantasy language such as Klingon has a place on this blog. There are aspects of the Klingon movement that relate to endangered languages and may be of interest to language planners and learners.

Klingon has no native speakers—though linguist d’Armond Speers spoke exclusively to his son in Klingon until he was three, his son does not speak the language today—and therefore Klingon resembles natural languages that are sleeping (also referred to as being dormant or extinct). In such situations, revitalizers rely on written or recorded materials to resuscitate the language into a spoken, living form.

Probably the most common written materials of endangered and dormant languages are Bibles and word lists or dictionaries. These are critical for language revitalization, even in cases where there are native speakers. For Klingon, canonical or official references include the books “The Klingon Dictionary (Star Trek),”  “The Klingon Way: A Warrior’s Guide (Star Trek: The Klingon Book of Virtues)” and “Klingon for the Galactic Traveler (Star Trek)” as well as audio tapes and other materials.

In many cases, a language may be spoken over a large area, such as in multiple villages, and the language varieties may differ. If each variety of language is considered valid, it is difficult to construct learning materials and dictionaries, as so many variants must be included. Doing so may also lead to confusion among learners. On the other side of the coin, selecting one variety may cause discord among those whose variety is not chosen.

Whether a word or form is considered official is referred to as canonicity. In the case of Klingon, this is an important concept. All languages change over time, and the degree to which people may coin new phrases is not set in stone. For now, anyway, adherence to the Klingon canons is a major concern in the Klingon community (culture).

Klingon is remarkable in the dedication of devotees. Its appeal to people may be of reference to language planners. Why does an invented conlang with no economic value and nearly no communicative use continue to attract learners when so many natural languages struggle with dwindling numbers? Surely, the shock value and quirky nature of learning Klingon are factors in Klingon’s popularity. The continuing popularity of “Star Trek” is doubtlessly a factor as well.

Also, the warrior culture of Klingons, perhaps tapping into the popularity of Japanese samurai, may be attractive in a way similar to how fencing, sword fighting and jousting are popular among Renaissance fair devotees. The brusque nature of Klingons—the expression “nuqneH” for hello literally means “What do you want?”—gives Klingon another unique characteristic.

A mailing list provides a way for people interested in Klingon to interact and ask questions. Since January 1, there have been a little over 300 messages on the list, averaging out to about 900 messages a year. Also, members of the Klingon Language Institute can download Klingon fonts as well as gain access to members-only materials about Klingon. (Membership is only USD 10 per year.)

Facebook has pages on Klingons and a page was started with the goal of getting Facebook to add Klingon as one of the Facebook interface languages. The request was granted, and nearly 7000 phrases have been translated. If you have a Facebook account (membership is free), go to account settings > language and select “tlhIngan Hol” for a Klingon interface. (Beware: Make sure you can set your language back again!) You can also help translate the remaining 32,000 phrases at the translation project page.

People are also tweeting in Klingon. Daily Klingon Word is active and klingons provides a list of Klingon tweeters.

Another aspect of Klingon that makes it attractive is that it has a literature. Translating children’s stories and other literature into an endangered language may provide a means of drawing people to the language. “Winnie Ille Pu (Latin Edition)” (the Latin version of “Winnie the Pooh”) and “Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Latin edition)” (the first “Harry Potter” book) are just two examples. Similarly, “Gilgamesh:: A Klingon Translation” (Gilgamesh) and “The Klingon Hamlet” are available, making it enjoyable to learn Klingon while reading something familiar.

And then is the conference, mentioned at the start of this post. Introductory lessons will be provided and Klingon grammarians will be on hand to assist those learning the language. Other activities include socializing, language games and performances.

Together, these activities and resources provide a community and an infrastructure for learning and using Klingon in a fun way. Perhaps some of these ideas may be of help in the revitalization of natural languages.

See also “taH pagh taHbe‘” on Talking Alaska on Klingon and endangered languages.

Cherokee Google

26 March 2011

Google search now supports Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ)

With help from Cherokee Nation staff and community members, Google has added Cherokee (chr) as an interface language. Part of the interface includes a keyboard for typing in Cherokee. As reported on this blog last year, Cherokee is the first indigenous language to be featured on the iPhone.

All together, Google has 228 localization languages under their Google in Your Language, or GIYL, project. The translation is complete for 22 of them, though it seems not all of those have been approved. As part of their localization project (crowdsourcing), Google has created a community. Learn more at the FAQ.

A small caveat about the 228 languages: That number includes seven varieties of English including three non-serious ones such as Pig Latin, 21 varieties of Spanish and a few other versions generally considered as dialects rather than languages.

Indigenous Language Tweets – Web 2.0 Communication

21 March 2011

In July 2006, Twitter launched its short message service (SMS), allowing people to create an account and send short messages that are transmitted to mobile phones and displayed on the Twitter site.

Celebrities, for example, send out short messages or tweets announcing their daily and special doings. Political organizations and environmental groups send out updates, and sports teams send out the latest on their players. At Twitter, a short message is known as a “tweet.”

This sort of information-sharing technology is sometimes referred to as Web 2.0, to indicate it is a step beyond the conventional Internet technologies of web pages and e-mail.

While Twitter is currently crowdsourcing (asking for volunteers) to translate its page to other languages, currently the interface is available in English and seven other major languages, and the tweets are overwhelmingly in such major languages.

People seeking information updates on a topic can go to the Twitter site and search for keywords to find someone who tweets on a subject they like. It can be difficult, however, to find tweets in lesser-used languages.

To address this issue, Kevin Scannell has set up Indigenous Tweets as a place to find people who tweet in your language. The home page shows the languages tracked—currently 39, up from the initial 35—as well as other information such as how many users tweet in each language and how many  tweets have been sent out.

To use Indigenous Tweets, click on a language to see the top tweeters in that language (up to 500), then click on a tweeter to go to Twitter.com and see that person’s tweet feed. From there, you can sign up to the feed if interested. Both Twitter and Indigenous Tweets are free services.

As a companion to Indigenous Tweets, Scannell has set up a blog with the same name, Indigenous Tweets (though at a different address).

Quick facts:

  • The total number of tweets tracked so far in the 39 languages offered on Indigenous Tweets exceeds 1.2 million.
  • The top volume language is Kreyòl Ayisyen or Haitian Creole (hat) at nearly 315,000 tweets.
  • Although less in volume, Euskara or Basque (eus) has more tweeters than any other language at 2069.
  • Among the languages on Indigenous Tweets is Cornish (kew), a language that fell asleep in England in the eighteenth century and began to be revived at the beginning of the twentieth. It now has L1 or native speakers.
  • Anishinaabemowin or Ojibwe (oji) is represented with 15 tweeters and Sámegiella or Sami (family) with 58.