Archive for the ‘software’ Category

Cherokee and Technology: a Lecture at the University of Washington

23 September 2012

As occasionally noted on this blog, great advances have been made for using Cherokee (chr) in computing, including mobile devices. Because of the unique syllabary (writing system) used in Cherokee, computing adaptation requires special

This upcoming Thursday, the Indigenous Information Research Group (Facebook page) is sponsoring a lecture by Roy Boney, Jr., a Cherokee Nation language preservationist. Titled “Cherokee Language Technology: The Syllabary and the Nation’s History of Technological Adoption,” the lecture will be about the design and development of Cherokee language apps for mobile devices.

When: Thursday, 27 September, 1:00-2:30 pm
Where: Room 416
Fourth Floor, Roosevelt Commons Building
4311 11th Ave NE
Seattle, WA

Learning with TRAILS

30 May 2011

Teach it
Restore it
Archive it

spells TRAILS, the name of a software program from Swifteagle Enterprises to assist people in learning languages, particularly indigenous ones.

According to the TRAILS website and private emails from Jim Swifteagle Crews, TRAILS is a platform for multimedia language learning programs. Packages include on-site customization within the continental US; additional charges apply for Hawai’i and locations outside the US.

Running on Windows XP or higher, TRAILS provides a way to incorporate images (such as photos), video (such as tribal dances) and sound files (recordings) to enhance the learning experience for the student. A field (separate line) is also available for phonetics, so you can simplify spelling to assist learnings, such as showing the pronunciation of “gnome” is “nohm.”

According to “Shinnecocks Learning an Old Language” on the Sag Harbor Express website, the Shinnecock Indian Nation purchased a TRAILS package which was installed in August 2009. The Shinnecock Indian Nation website lists this as part of a program to create a Shinnecock Language and Culture School and achieve fluent speakers. Shinnecock is a dialect of Mohegan-Montauk-Narragansett (mof), whose last native speaker passed away in 1925.

Page 4a of the TRAILS website shows a sample page of Shinnecock, with the Shinnecock word for “fox” along with a photograph and phonetics to aid pronunciation.

The packages begin at USD 18,000, which includes a computer system, printer and projector plus on-site setup and localization to meet the language needs of the purchasing community. All intellectual property rights remain with the community. Special fonts are not a problem.

Features include:

  • Classroom-ready – The packages are installed on-site with a projector so they can be put to use immediately
  • Annotated video capability – One example is a video of a ceremony with the spoken words written next to the video with an English translation
  • Data import – TRAILS can handle large quantities of data, and importing vocabulary lists from Excel, for example, is easy to do

Other packages are also available that include installation on multiple computers, laptops, and even flash drives.

TRAILS can also be found on Facebook.

YouTube video of Cherokee iPhone app

17 May 2011

As mentioned on this blog (Tsalagi on the iPhone), there is an iPhone app that assists with learning Cherokee (chr). Here is a YouTube video that demonstrates the app.

The “ᏣᎳᎩ” on the initial screen of the video is tsalagi or Cherokee, written in that language.

An app is an application that works on a smartphone. A smartphone is a mobile phone with a computer-like capacity and the ability to use the internet (more than conventional mobile phones).

US Conference May 16-17

6 May 2011

In cooperation with the Grotto Foundation, the Eni–gikendaasoyang (Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Language Revitalization) at the University of Minnesota Duluth is holding Minnesota Indigenous Language Symposium VI on May 16 and 17.

Topics on the provisional agenda include:

  • Skits based on the popular Ojibwemodaa immersion software for learning Ojibwe (oji)
  • Teaching Dakota (dak) without using English
  • The importance of morphology in learning Ojibwe (the “sound-based method”)
  • Technology and learning
  • Inter-generational learning

Theme: Weaving Indigenous Language Through Family, Education & Community
Dates: September 16-17, 2011
Location: Black Bear Resort & Casino, Carlton, Minnesota
Fees: USD 175, 140 elders, 100 higher education students; USD 200 after May 11

This post was inspired by “Language Symposium in Minnesota to take place May 16th & 17th” on the Spoken First website.

Chitimacha on Rosetta Stone

28 March 2011

Seven decades after the last speaker of Chitimacha (ctm) passed away, great steps are being taken to restore its place in the world as an active language. Chitimacha is a language isolate, once spoken in Louisiana, US.

As reported in “Chitimacha: Building Blocks for Revitalization” on “RVoice: Inside Rosetta Stone,” a Rosetta Stone version of their famous language-learning software has been completed for Chitimacha. Although terms had to be coined for modern words such as computer and newspaper, the language was well documented before it went dormant.

Much work lies ahead in fostering a new generation of speakers through developing the education program to incorporate and complement the software. Read more at “From the Endangered Language Program: Chitimacha Release.”

To learn more about Rosetta Stone’s work with language revitalization, see their Endangered Language Program Page.

Carlinga for Typing Diacritics

17 March 2011

Accents, circumflexes, cedillas and umlauts. Four types of diacritic marks commonly used in European and other languages. But English rarely uses any. Often it will retain diacritics when first borrowing a word, then gradually lose them. “Depot” is rarely written anymore as depôt (or dépôt) and coöperation has become cooperation.

This lack of need for diacritics meant that in the past, when computers had more limitations in memory and processing power, the English-speaking people who developed software did not include diacritics. For people needing diacritics, this created a problem that has never been completely resolved.

For North American languages, the Language Geek provides an excellent set of fonts and keyboard layouts to assist in typing—at no charge.

Carlinga is another excellent resource. Also free of charge, Carlinga works in the background waiting for you to type a pre-programmed key sequence, then it silently jumps in and replaces the sequence with the programmed equivalent.

For example, type ,\e and Carlinga will convert it into è. Type ,/h and you get an ħ. Or ,/l to get a ł. Generally, it does not matter what software you are using, though some software programs may not support the characters (in which case you are out of luck for that software).

Another nice feature of Carlinga is that it can be modified in case your character is not pre-programmed.

Carlinga comes with a PDF file showing all the pre-programmed characters, but if you need to find a character not in the list, see List of Unicode characters. If you have Word for Windows, you can also find characters through the insert symbol feature. On Word 2007/2010, it is Insert > Symbol > More symbols. Unicode fonts with lots of characters to look for include Arial Unicode MS and Lucinda Sans Unicode.

Carlinga requires no installation or uninstallation.

For fonts supporting a wide range of characters, see the Language Geek and Unicode fonts, one of which is the pleasant-looking Doulos SIL font.

Social Software with Language Revitalization

17 March 2011

According to the article “Native Tech Firm Developing Social Indigenous Language Software Platform” on the Falmouth Institute website, Osten Interactive is working on a social software platform keyed to language and culture revitalization.

Social software refers to a system like Facebook or Myspace, where people can post photos and their latest doings for friends and family members. It also allows members to cyberly “meet” new people and chat (type to each other in real time), among many other activities.

What is unique about Osten Interactive’s plan is to incorporate digital storytelling, a multi-dialect dictionary and other features geared toward language revitalization.

According to an article in the February edition of the Muscogee Nation News on Osten’s website, CEO Chris Alexander hopes to develop the software in a year and place it in schools, and once it has demonstrated its worth, request the Oklahoma state legislature to approve it as part of the available foreign language curriculum.

The software would begin with Muscogee/Muskogee or Creek (mus), the language of Alexander’s heritage.

TPR, Comics and Movies in Seneca Classroom

14 March 2011

Seneca (see) is a language spoken in Ontario, New York and Oklahoma. Known in Seneca as Onödowága or Onötowáka, the language had 175 older speakers in the 1990s according to the Ethnologue.

Yet the language is being taught and an educator has started a blog called Seneca Language Revitalization and Documentation. According to the blog, Seneca is being taught for 40 minutes a day in public schools at the middle and high school levels.

A post put up yesterday mentions the use of TPR or total physical response, a method that incorporates physical movement of students into language learning. TPR was developed by James J. Asher and articles are available on TPR World. Also mentioned are the use of movies. The blog post points out Animoto, a free tool for making movies from images and video clips, and Xtranormal, whose free State program allows you to make animated movies.

Another post talks about using comic strips in the education program. Seneca has a strong oral tradition, and students use the comic strip as a guide for telling a story. The tool used is ToonDoo, which appears to offer free comic strip making online.

To learn more about Seneca, see the Education page on the Seneca Nation of Indians website. See also the incredible Seneca Language Topic Reference Guide (PDF), a document about 100 pages in length covering vocabulary, grammar and culture. To type in Seneca on your computer, see the Language Geek.

RezWorld Demo – Task-based Language Instruction

5 March 2011

Thorton Media, Inc. (TMI) creates tools for indigenous languages in Canada and the US. They are the company behind the Tsalagi or Cherokee (chrlanguage app for the iPod/iPhone (see earlier post) and also produce the Language Pal for the Nintendeo DSi (a handheld video game machine).

Alelo is a company that makes interactive 3D video games, the sort where you play a character and interact with computer (or other human) characters.

Together, they have created a pilot for a game to learn languages in an interactive setting. It uses a task-based approach, where the player/learner is given a task to do and uses the target language to complete the task. The concept is that by creating a world that has game qualities, the user will forget they are in a learning environment and instead strive to learn the language while having fun. Named RezWorld, the pilot is in Cherokee and draws on on-rez life.

The game is planned to have as many as 12 levels and is intended to be customizable for any language. TMI is currently seeking a group interested in creating the first full version. The basic price is USD 300,000 for one level and $1 million for a complete set. Once the first game is complete, the price would drop dramatically, with packages estimated as low as $250,000 for a full game.

In addition to a dictionary, grammar explanations and translations, the game would include, as an example:

  • 40 skill building lessons with an aim of at least 1800 vocabulary words
  • 100 dialogs
  • 1000+ exercises and quizzes
  • 1900+ lesson pages
  • 9 Game scenes

To learn more, see their FAQ. To inquire about RezWorld, an iPhone/iPod app, DSi application or other application in your language, see their contact page.

Software for Scholarship

27 November 2007

Work is underway to better cross-analyze ancient texts using advanced software tools. This work is a collaboration called the Archimedes Project between the Dept. of the Classics at Harvard Univ. and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science – see Scholars resuscitate dead languages.

The Archimedes Project specifically aims at learning about how the science of mechanics developed by looking at ancient texts. The outcome should be new tools that allow language data to be more accessible and languages easier to learn by computer.

One of the methods used is to examine Arabic translations of lost Greek documents and reconstruct the Greek. The software brings together a variety of tools that assist with this. One of the primary software programs is Arboreal, which allows you to annotate text using XML. (This Arboreal should not be confused with the linguistics program Arboreal that allows you to create syntax trees.)

Other tools developed include Donatus, which provides online analysis of morphology, and Pollux, an online interface providing a collection of dictionaries including Arabic, French, German, Greek, Italian, Latin and Sumerian.

This entry was prompted by the entry Reviving Dead Languages: A Promising Trend? at Alex’s Language and Society Blog.