Archive for the ‘Windows’ Category

Learning with TRAILS

30 May 2011

Teach it
Restore it
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Indigenous
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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.

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Online Cultural Heritage Tool – Mukurtu

25 March 2011

As announced on Kimberly A. Christen’s blog In Transition, the website for Mukurtu has been launched.

According to the blog entry, “Mukurtu is an open source, adaptable, digital archive and content management tool specifically aimed at the needs of indigenous communities, archives, libraries and museums globally.”

Using a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Mukurtu Development team has been reevaluating Mukurtu, toward an updated release.

Mukurtu is a Web 2.0 tool for online social interactions. Based on the programming language Drupal, Mukurtu includes the following features:

  • Tools for typing characters not found on the standard QWERTY keyboard,
  • Fine-grained security to restrict cultural properties as required,
  • Operates on Windows, Mac or Linux, and
  • On-the-fly recording

In addition to the Mukurtu website, learn about the program on BBC’s “Digital Planet” in an episode about ownership and openness. The lead-in to Kimberly Christen’s portion on Mukurtu starts at 8:10.

According to the “About” page, the word Mukurtu means dilly bag in Warumungu (wrm). A dilly bag is used to hold sacred objects.

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.