Lexical Database Archiving Questionnaire


It's true!

I am asking around on different mailing lists to gain some insight into the archiving habits of linguists who use lexical databases. I am specifically interested in databases created by tools like FLEx, ToolBox, Lexus, TshwaneLex, etc.

Background Story Continue reading

Sing me to sleep

September 20th was our first day back. That night was our first night in our own bed in at least 53 nights. Katja didn’t sleep very soundly or very long.  She was in her own room in her crib. Finally at about 5 am (8 am east coast time) we took her to sleep in between us in our bed. She usually falls a sleep and will sleep about two more hours. This morning was different because I felt she asked me to sing to her.  Now, how can that be? A child with production capability of about 3.5 words asking me to sing to her to fall asleep. Well, when I would sing she would lay her head down. And when I would stop she would questionly look at me or start talking to me.  And when I would coo/hum at her she would lay down with her head on her pillow. So I sang some made up song on the spot.  More like sonorous German, than a song but nonetheless singing. After a short while she fell asleep. I felt that she wanted me to sing. While I do thing that she has quite a few homophones and really only very few words I think she understands many more words. 

A few posts ago I was able to write about the mental concepts she had. Now there are way too many to list. She acquires more everyday. This week she started pointing to her own head when asked: “where is your head?” We promptly started asking her where her nose was.  Now she knows her head, eyes, nose, and (my) beard. We were walking in Jerry’s hardware store and I told her to put her hand in mine and she did (with a bit of repetition), so I think she also knows what hand is. 

Kajta has also taken to reading on our long road trip (120 hours of driving over the last 53 days). When I get to read she points to objects which are the same. Today she even pointed to a picture of a spoon and then smacked her lips (which is currently one of her communicative actions). It makes me think that she actually is “reading” or at least understanding g son of the imagery in her books. 

While reading she will sometimes babel to herself.

While reading she will sometimes babel to herself.

Where is your head?

Where is your head?

I must admit that it is more fun than I imagined to watch her read.

I must admit that it is more fun than I imagined to watch her read.

Miller Place Starbucks

Today I stop by a place where I used to work. The  Starbucks at Miller Place, New York. I Worked there for about three months in 2006. It was an interesting ride. I had lots of fun. The people I worked with were great. They made me feel accepted in ways that I had not known were important. A lot has changed since I was there. It took 2 min 6 seconds do me to get a venti ice water. My time working in a NY Starbucks would go on to shape my mind about food customer service and about the appropriate speed of service. Unfortunately, there was no one at the store that I recognized-of course, it’s almost 8 years later (what should one expect?). Going back kind of makes me emotional. Not sure why. It was just a lot. I guess it was a good time in my life. 

I remember some of the regulars quite well, that is their drinks of course. There was the triple venti carmel macchiato guy that would come in three times a day.  And there was this guy who owned a pizza shop at the adjacent parking lot. He got an espresso sometimes, but mostly just a cup of joe.

The guy who owned a pizza shop once sold me the best pizza I have ever tasted. I thought I’d stop by and order a pie but there was a sign saying they were closed and selling the assets. Made me sad a disappointed.  I know that life goes on, but maybe that shop owner died.  I mean he might have been in his late 60’s at the time.  I remember the love of his life was there in the shop as was his son. 

Almost run over…

I stopped at the historic courthouse in Hanover, Virginia. I was taking some pictures and then I walk down the path to the walkway crossing the road to the eatery and in across the street. When I got to the crosswalk I was surprised because as I entered the crosswalk, one of the local sheriff cars (presumably driven by a deputy) saw me in the crosswalk but didn’t stop to let me cross. I found it interesting from a “safety first” perspective. But perhaps “practicing safety” and “law enforcemeant” are not exactly the same thing.


Walking into an assisted living facility (where elderly couples can live together) with Katja brought a lot of joy to some elderly people tonight. I'm glad that we were able to be the material source of these happy moments.

For me though there is some mixed feelings. I mean why aren't these people living with their families? Where are their grandchildren? Are we living in a broken society that ships grandma and grandpa off to an independent living facility without a second thought? I understand that sometimes there are a lot, or complex medical issues. For instance my grandpa had Alzheimer's and he was a bit much for my full-time-working-aunt to care for towards the very end of his life (she had worked with him for several years prior). I understand that tough decisions have to be made all the time. I just wonder if the lack of age integration in the United States society (family) leads to stunted or detrimnetal development in the family structure and relationships. If our stratal age based society in some way robs our children of proper development and experience with aging. Just tonight I can see that it seems to rob the elderly of proper joy from interactions with the young.

It makes me think about my future, not where do I want to live, but how do want to live. I don't want to live in an assisted living facility. It might rather die young.

But we weren't just walking into any living facility. We were going to see Betsy and Eddy, the people who spent a significant amount of time raising Becky when she was little. I met them before they moved to the assisted care facility. So there was a bit more context for me. It's also a bit hard for me to watch Becky as she processes their aging. Eddy has always been "old" to both Becky and me - he served in the second world war. It does not make the task any easier when we have a little 11 month old who likes to run and get into things - everything. It sometimes seems as if we are a nuisance, but I know that the visits mean something to everyone. There just has to be a way to make this kind of social function amenable to little kids... if someone has something that has worked for them, please comment below.

For me visiting these places reminds me of visiting my dad's elderly relatives in New York City. I understand that they meant something to him. I mean he had more relational context than I did for those relatives. As a child I remember sitting for what seemed like hours not being able to do anything interesting and not being engaged with the adults in any way. Sometimes it was in a hospital, sometimes a long term care facility, sometimes it was an over crowded apartment. As a young child it was boring - as an adult it is not much better. I think it was appropriate for my dad to visit his relatives. I even think it was appropriate for me to be there. But I wonder if there's a more appropriate way to integrate children into the lives of the elderly who are not elderly care givers to the children.

Wall of honor: a picture gallery of people who live here and have served in the military

Wall of honor: a picture gallery of people who live here and have served in the military. Are we honoring them with the joy of children?

A Facebook position 

My Facebook Use

A Facebook position isn't easy. I have multiple positions on multiple different aspects of Facebook. I was in early adopter Facebook, I have been there from almost the beginning - I have a lot invested in my interactions via Facebook. I remember Facebook rolling out Facebook graph, the iOS phone app, messenger, the various redesigns, policy changes, and the announcement of the IPO. It has been an interesting journey through the development of the Facebook brand and product.

In short this post says: “Yes, I use Facebook, but please don't post photos of my kids, or of the inside of my house on Facebook, WhatsApp, or Instagram.”

A Facebook position is important, it helps us think about when and where it might be appropriate to use Facebook - weather as an individual, a business, or a large corporation. A Facebook position is going to be unique to every individual. In this post I will discuss it in three aspects. I run a small business, I run a personal blog, and I have kids (well an 11 month old daughter). In general, Facebook's terms of service is of some help to Facebook users in understanding some of Facebook's positions on what it wants to do with the data metadata and relationships between data that it gathers from its users.
I'm a big believer in personal privacy. Part of personal privacy I think is controlling for the connections between data points (the relationships between associated data), and also controlling for metadata.

In contrast to personal privacy and self revelation of personal data, Social privacy is a lot more difficult to control for, because other people make revelations about you that you may or may not appreciate. These revelations may be new data points or they may be new relationships between existing data points. For instance, in the Facebook world, a new data point might be a photo and a new relationship might be tagging someone in that photo and making that tag connect to that person’s profile.
One of Facebook's goals is to make it conducive and easy for people to share information about the other people that they know. So Facebook is engineered and designed to help create accurate metadata and relationships between data points among users. 
Truth is though even though I am a big personal privacy advocate, I do like to share information with others, but I like to do so on my own terms. That is why when Facebook pushed out a new version of their iOS app which required users to let Facebook to have unlimited access to your phone's microphone, I deleted the app and disabled functionality from Facebook to my phone.
Because I am a long-time Facebook user I have a quite a network of personal and professional contacts from various time depths of my life on Facebook. It is to my advantage to leverage these contacts in the various personal and business dealings I have. That's why Becky and I use a business oriented Facebook page for updates about our work in Nigeria. I also connect Facebook with various blog post of mine from my independently run WordPress site. This allows me to connect with new and existing audiences via Facebook.

Facebook and kids

Facebook requires that one be 13 or older to have their own account. You can see the policy guidelines here: https://www.facebook.com/help/157793540954833/

As far as I can tell that is because there are certain US federal regulations about privacy for children that Facebook would have to comply with if it aloud younger people to create accounts. http://www.coppa.org

Some countries have a lower or higher age limit, Yet, other countries like Ireland have no specific age limit at all. There's an interesting discussion helping parents think through issues from an Irish national perspective here: http://www.webwise.ie/parents/a-guide-to-facebook-age-limits

Because others have lengthy and detailed discussions about age appropriateness and issues for young users of social to consider when using these complex platforms, I am not going to directly discuss those issues here.
For me is more important to understand the Facebook business model, and to ask: “How do I want to engage with that business model and how do I want to engage my children with that business model.”
For me I want to let my children choose to engage with the Facebook business model when they are old enough to independently think about the consequences. It does not mean that I won't discuss it with them or help them think it through, but I would rather them inter the marketplace of their own accord, rather than me inducing them in from birth.
This means for my children that I want to give them the option to put their personal information into the hands of another company's structured information set.
It doesn't mean that I don't believe in sharing photos of my kids (I do share photos through this blog and another website here: http://www.hughandbecky.org/photos/katja-paterson-2015/), it means that I don't believe the medium best suited for sharing those photos is Facebook. For me owning the distribution and connectivity platform means that if I want to remove the source image from the web I can. In contrast to Facebook if I want to remove content from Facebook I am not guaranteed that Facebook will actually remove that content. Facebook even acknowledges that my data and data about me may persist even after I delete my account. There are several good articles which give a rundown about Facebook's Terms of Service (TOS). One from the Huffington Post is here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/21/facebook-terms-condition_n_5551965.html. (Because we all know that even reading the TOS of a platform we love can be confusing.)

My opinions about use of Facebook with my kids and property apply to WhatsApp, Instagram (link to TOS), and Facebook, which are all owned by Facebook.

Photos of Kids

I may be off my rocker, but I really think that parents have a responsibility to protect their kids. Part of that may be from the encroachment of social media companies (data collectors) into the personal lives of our kids (not to mention other powerful marketing forces that parents need to protect their kids from). I would also like to think that parents should have the privilege of approving the use of photos of their kids in all cases, although I realize that in public places, permission to photograph children in the United States might be considered a first amendment right (this often includes school sports games). A short bit of googling shows that there is different jurisdictions with different laws (discussion for the UK context), and there are also different protocols for different types of photos (see discussion 1, and discussion 2 ), such as the intended use of the photo, like commercial marketing. The complexity with respect to social media (beyond the persistence of personal data) is that The social media platform may apply a license to the photos allowing for commercial use. For a general overview of the topic consider looking at the wikipedia article for Photography and the law.

Language Survey

SIL International has a survey service which operates across the globe in different administrative SIL units. I wonder, if the future of survey is no-longer looking at where indigenous people are living and what language variations they may have, but rather looking at where these people are going. Consider just the migrants from Nigeria according to lucify.com 89,032 Nigerians have immigrated towards Europe in the last 4 years. That is a lot of people. Where do those people come from? what languages do they speak? What linguistic load is being put on European governmental services? What could SIL offer to these governmental agencies? How could various social organizations benefit from SIL's often long standing work in the regions that these immigrants are coming from?

European migration destinations from Nigeria. via lucky.com.

European migration destinations from Nigeria. via lucky.com.

Related Images:

Term limits. 

This morning over coffee an interesting discussion ensued over term limits for U.S. Congressional seat winners. The point was that we have term limits for the presidency but often not for other positions in the government; is the public’s best interest followed by not having term limits? At my core I’m not against term limits, but I wonder if they will result in the kinds of results we really want. i.e. It is suggested that if representatives and senators were limited then they would be more inclined to think critically about the laws impacting their areas of representation rather than who is going to fund their re-election. In theory I understand this line of reasoning. However, if we do propose term limits how does mentoring and long range national policy planning take place? Does this mean then that the outside consultant becomes more influential? And is that a secondary risk because the people with real power to influence are moved to outside the elected system?

Fruitless Wycliffe Headquarters

I'm here in Orlando, Florida at the WycliffeUSA headquarters. I took my daughter out for a stroll through the parking lot. The heat, humidity and the landscape got me thinking. In anthropology and documentary linguistics we often think about the relationship between people, their culture and social practices, and the land they live on or transverse through. For instance, there is the taxation of land in the Ottoman Empire according to how many trees are on a piece of property (which led to the deforestation of lots of land in the Middle East). In biblical accounts of the depopulation of the Palestinian region there are mentions of "barrenness" or deforestation as a result of the change in population activities.

Sidewalk at the WycliffeUSA headquarters.

Sidewalk at the WycliffeUSA headquarters.

More recently we can look at issues of urbanization around the world, be they accounts of roads in Australia or Mexico affecting traditional activities and the use of land by indigenous peoples, or of refugees neading wood fires for cooking in Africa. 
So if we take as truth this relationship between us and the land we steward, what then should  be our response? It is also equally striking that if we look back though history, that major architectural features are built and new designs are established based on the priorities of institutional management. For instance, consider The Roman emperors and the colosseum, Egypt and the pyramids, Noah and the ark, the Vatican and St. Peter's basilica, or the USA Vietnam war memorial with the names of the fallen soldiers written on it. Our architectural legacy (which is part of our land use) leaves a testament to our management priorities. 

When I was in Africa doing some linguistic field work, I was approached by a local fellow who does a bit of mentoring of local young men; teaching them life skills and stewardship practices. He asked me how many fruit trees I have on my property.  I told him "none" (as I had forgotten about the fig tree on my rental property in Texas and the house I was living in at the time in Oregon had no fruit trees at all). This Nigerian continued to tell me that fruit trees are really important because they not only affect the quality of the ground but they also provide income.  For him a fruit tree on his property means that he has shade in an air conditioner-less society, and fruit in season -- meaning: He does not have to pay for food and can send one of his kids to market to sell his excess fruit (income instead of expense). He also said, that one must plant fruit trees early in life (and it is therefore important for young men to know) because it takes time (years) for fruit trees to be productive. 

My response in the two and a half years since being asked if I have fruit trees on my property has been that I have planted four fruit trees, eleven fruiting shrubs, and two fruiting bramble patches. While I have chosen fruits that I like and grow in my region, my attention to planing fruit trees at all can be directly traced to my conversation with this Nigerian. And now that I am in my 30's it is my hope that my daughter will have fruit from my trees. 

I planted a plum tree and a row of blueberries.

I planted a plum tree and a row of blueberries.

I planted three  fig trees on the lower course.

I planted three fig trees on the lower course.

So as I walk with my daughter though the walking paths at the Wycliffe headquarters in the 9 AM morning sun and humidity of a Florida August in full swing, I appreciate the few shade trees in the landscaping around the buildings. But I wonder: "why no fruit trees?"  
A view over the east side of the Wycliffe headquartes.

A view over the east side of the Wycliffe headquartes.

In contrast to the trees on the east side of the buildings, the west side contains a rain/drainage pond (an important feature in Florida) and grassy fields. 

A view over the west side of the Wycliffe headquartes.

A view over the west side of the Wycliffe headquartes.

So as I walk the grounds of the Wycliffe headquarters I wonder what the architecture can tell us about the priorities of the organizational management. I wonder why there are (beautiful albeit fruitless) trees on the east side and plains on the west side.The author of the book Rich dad, poor dad talks about buying assets which make us money rather than buying assets which cost us money. Money is one easy way that American culture can quantify the propensity to be sustainable. That is, profitability and sustainability are not the same, but profitability metics can be used as an indicator for some sorts of sustainability. The principle can be expounded upon even for non-profit organizations. Assets which pay for themselves contribute to the organization's sustainability. I wonder how many NGOs (not just WycliffeUSA) treat their land as an asset which should pay for itself. I think it is particularly interesting to consider in WycliffeUSA's case because sustained use of it's products is one of its businesses goals. That is, how integrated into the corporation's activities is the ideas of stewardship and sustainability?

I am no expert on Floridian horticulture but I wonder what sort of analogies can be drawn between the state of the grounds and the organizational priorities as pursued by management.

I do know that oranges grow in Florida, I wonder if Wycliffe had a grove of oranges and had a you-pick (pay version) if that would add social value to the property in the eyes of local Floridians. Communities form around food and the food gathering process. Or if the orange grove was a free you-pick could Wycliffe organize an open house to coincide with orange season to meet both practical and spiritual needs of local Americans interested in holistic ministry to native and minority language speaking peoples?

In terms of architecture I'm no expert on facility maintenance or on Florida weather but it seems that solar power would also be a financially benefiting venture for an organization depending on fluctuating income streams.