Modular Courses for Linguistics

In 2008 I was contacted by a professor who wanted to be able to share various linguistics exercises with fellow professors. He asked for a website to be build so that if a professor were to translate the directions of these exercises that they could in turn put these translated versions back into the “set of exercises”. Continue reading

Reflections on CRASSH

In July I presented a paper at CRASSH in Cambridge. It was a small conference, but being in Europe it was good to see many of the various kinds of projects which are going on in Digital Humanities and Linguists, or also Cloud Computing and Linguistics. One particular project, TypeCraft, stands out as being rather well done and promising was presented by Dorothee Beermann Hellan. I think the ideas presented in this project are well thought out and seem to be well implemented. It would be nice to see this product integrated with some other linguistics and language documentation cloud offerings. i.e. Project Lego from the Linguist’s List or the Max Planck Institute’s LEXUS project. While TypeCraft does allow for round tripping of data with XML, what I am talking about is a consolidated User Experience for both professional linguists and for Minority language users.

A note on foundational technologies:

  • It appears that Lexus is is built on BaseX with Cocoon and XML.
  • The front page of TypeCraft has a very Wikipedia like feel, but this might not be the true foundational technology.
  • Linguist’s List often does their work in ColdFusion and the LEGO project definitely has this feel about it.

The Look of Language Development Websites

I have been thinking through some of the presentation issues for presenting SIL International’s work on the web. As part of this I have also been looking at other organizations which are part of the language documentation and minority language revitalization movement. I recently ran across several nicely done web sites.

National Geographic Genographic Project

National Geographic Genographic Project

National Geographic Genographic Project

Continue reading

Developing an understanding on how multi-lingual content needs to work on sil.org

Over the last few weeks I have been contemplating how multi-lingual content could work on sil.org. (I have had several helpful conversations to direct my thinking.)

As I understand the situation there is basically three ways which multi-lingual content could work.

First let me say that there is a difference between, multi-lingual content, multi-lingual taxonomies, and multi-lingual menu structures. We are talking about content here, not menu and navigation structures or taxonimies. Facebook has probably presented the best framework to date for utilizing on the power crowds to translate navigation structures. In just under two years they added over 70 languages to Facebook. However, Facebook has had some bumps along the way as DropBox points out in their post talking about their experience in translating their products and services.

  • Use a mechanism which shows all the available languages for content and highlights which ones are available to the user. Zotero has an implementation of this on their support forums.
    Zotero language options

    Zotero language options

  • Basically create a subsite for each language and then only show which pages have content in that language. Wikipedia does this. Wikipedia has a menu on the left side with links to articles with this same title in other languages. Only languages which have an article started in them on that title are shown in the menu.
    SIL International in English

    SIL International in English

    Other Pages in other languages may not show the same content.

    Other Pages in other languages may not show the same content.

  • Finally, create a cascading structure for each page or content area. So there is a primary language and a secondary language or a tertiary, or a quaternary language etc. based on the browser language of choice with country IP playing a secondary role. If there is no page for the primary language then the next in preference will show. This last option has been preferred by some because if an organization wants to present content to a user, then obviously, it would be in the users’ primary language. But if the content is not available in the primary language then the organization would want to still let the user know that the content exists in another language.

It would also be good to understand the concepts used in Drupal 7 (and Drupal 8) for multi-lingual content. There are several resources which I have found helpful:

  1. Localized and Multi-Lingual Content in Drupal 7
  2. Drupal 7’s new multilingual systems (part 4) – Node translation
  3. Drupal 7’s new multilingual systems compilation
  4. Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative

It would appear that from this list of resources that Drupal’s default behavior is more in line with part two of the three examples given above.