Software Needs for a Language Documentation Project

In this post I take a look at some of the software needs of a language documentation team. One of my ongoing concerns of linguistic software development teams (like SIL International's Palaso or LSDev, or MPI's archive software group, or a host of other niche software products adapted from main stream open-source projects) is the approach they take in communicating how to use the various elements of their software together to create useful workflows for linguists participating in field research on minority languages. Many of these software development teams do not take the approach that potential software users coming to their website want to be oriented to how these software solutions work together to solve specific problems in the language documentation problem space. Now, it is true that every language documentation program is different and will have different goals and outputs, but many of these goals are the same across projects. New users to software want to know top level organizational assumptions made by software developers. That is, they want to evaluate how software will work in a given scenario (problem space) and to understand and make informed decisions based on the eco-system that the software will lead them into. This is not too unlike users asking which is better Android or iPhone, and then deciding what works not just with a given device but where they will buy their music, their digital books, and how they will get those digital assets to a new device, when the phone they are about to buy no-longer serves them. These digital consequences are not in the mind of every consumer... but they are nonetheless real consequences.
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The Look of Language Archive Websites

This the start of a cross-language archive look at the current state of UX design presenting Content generated in Language Documentation.

http://www.rnld.org/archives
http://www.mpi.nl/DOBES/language_archives

http://paradisec.org.au/
http://repository.digiarch.sinica.edu.tw/index.jsp?lang=en

http://alma.matrix.msu.edu/

http://www.thlib.org/

http://www.thlib.org/

http://www.ailla.utexas.org/site/welcome.html

Permanently accessible? to whom?

Photo of the Bush House


Bush house: the BBC World Service is leaving its home after 71 years
Photo: Paul Grover via The Telegraph

There has recently been some discussion on the about the BBC selling its production facilities and moving from the Bush House to somewhere else. The BBC world service has been a major player in radio and oral culture in Great Britain and around the world for 71 years. A lot of history has been reported by the service. And the BBC's records (including its archive) have oral histories of a variety of world events for the last 71 years in a variety of languages (Wikipedia has a brief description of the collections at the BBC.). Continue reading

Keyboard Design for Minority languages

This post is a open draft! It might be updated at any time… But was last updated on December 19, 2014 at 1:10 am.

Keyboards Virtual and Physical

Keyboards Virtual and Physical

Pre-Print Draft will not be available through this means, though there is a video of the presentation.


A. Meꞌphaa Text Sample

A̱ ngui̱nꞌ, tsáanꞌ ninimba̱ꞌlaꞌ ju̱ya̱á Jesús, ga̱ju̱ma̱ꞌlaꞌ rí phú gagi juwalaꞌ ído̱ rí nanújngalaꞌ awúun mbaꞌa inii gajmá. Numuu ndu̱ya̱á málaꞌ rí ído̱ rí na̱ꞌnga̱ꞌlaꞌ inuu gajmá, nasngájma ne̱ rí gakon rí jañii a̱kia̱nꞌlaꞌ ju̱ya̱á Ana̱ꞌlóꞌ, jamí naꞌne ne̱ rí ma̱wajún gúkuálaꞌ. I̱ndo̱ó máꞌ gíꞌmaa rí ma̱wajún gúkuálaꞌ xúgíí mbiꞌi, kajngó ma̱jráanꞌlaꞌ jamí ma̱ꞌne rí jañii a̱kia̱nꞌlaꞌ, asndo rí náxáꞌyóo nitháan rí jaꞌyoo ma̱nindxa̱ꞌlaꞌ. [I̱yi̱i̱ꞌ rí niꞌtháán Santiágo̱ 1:2-4]

B. Sochiapam Chinantec Text Sample

Hnoh² reh², ma³hiún¹³ hnoh² honh² lɨ³ua³ cáun² hi³ quiunh³² náh², quí¹ la³ cun³ hi³ má²ca³lɨ³ ñíh¹ hnoh² jáun² hi³ tɨ³ jlánh¹ bíh¹ re² lı̵́²tɨn² tsú² hi³ jmu³ juenh² tsı̵́³, nı̵́¹juáh³ zia³² hi³ cá² lau²³ ca³tɨ²¹ hi³ taunh³² tsú² jáun² ta²¹. Hi³ jáun² né³, chá¹ hnoh² cáun² honh², hi³ jáun² lı̵́¹³ lɨ³tɨn² hnoh² re² hi³ jmúh¹³ náh² juenh² honh², hi³ jáun² hnoh² lı̵́¹³ lı̵́n³ náh² tsá² má²hún¹ tsı̵́³, tsá² má²ca³hiá² ca³táunh³ ca³la³ tán¹ hián² cu³tí³, la³ cun³ tsá² tiá² hi³ lɨ³hniauh²³ hí¹ cáun² ñí¹con² yáh³. [Jacobo Jmu² Cáun² Sí² Hi³ Ca³tɨn¹ Tsá² *Judíos, Tsá² Má²tiáunh¹ Ñí¹ Hliáun³ 1:2-4]

C. Spanish Text Sample

Hermanos míos, gozaos profundamente cuando os halléis en diversas pruebas, sabiendo que la prueba de vuestra fe produce paciencia. Pero tenga la paciencia su obra completa, para que seáis perfectos y cabales, sin que os falte cosa alguna. [Santiago 1:2-4 Reina-Valera 1995 (RVR1995)]

D. English Text Sample

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. [James 1:2-4 New Living Translation (NLT 2007)]

Types of Linguistic Maps: The Mapping of linguistic Features and Researcher Interactivity

A couple of years ago I had a chance meeting with a cartographer in North Dakota. It was interesting because he asked us (a group of linguists) What is a language or linguistic map? So, I grabbed a few examples and put them into a brief for him. This past January at the LSA meeting in Portland, Oregon, I had several interesting conversations with the folks at the LL-Map Project under Linguists’ List. It occurred to me that such a presentation of various kinds of language maps might be useful to a larger audience. So this will be a bit unpolished but should show a wide selection of language and linguistic based maps, and in the last section I will also talk a bit about interactive maps. 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.