Category Archives: Lectures / Readings

Endangered Languages and New Technologies

The book “Endangered Languages and New Technologies” edited by Mari C. Jones has just been published at Cambridge University Press:
New technologies can help the documentation and analysis of endangered languages through digitalisation, archiving, the creation of smart electronic resources, and by bringing new methodologies to this linguistic domain.
This book presents a range of exciting realizations and new projects from field linguists, typologists and computational linguists, to handle documentation and analysis of endangered languages in a smart and connected way.

The first part of the book focuses on the development of new technologies for endangered languages. This part opens with a paper written by Aimée Lahaussois about the application of the concept of comparable corpora to closely related endangered languages (“The Kiranti comparable corpus: A prototype corpus for the comparison of Kiranti languages and mythology”). The same stories were collected in the field (eastern Nepal) in three languages (Khaling, Thulung and Koyi) and aligned on the basis of similar semantic content. For a technical explanation of the structure behind the corpus, see the following article, written by Aimée Lahaussois and Séverine Guillaume (LACITO), “A viewing and processing tool for the analysis of a comparable corpus of Kiranti mythology”:

The material in the corpus and the corpus interface will be expanded through the HimalCo project.

Various other projects are described in the articles that make up this part, on topics as various as European dialect syntax, cross-platform keyboard layouts, machine translation, online data analysis through Collaborative Data Management System, Learning Management Systems, etc.

The second part of the book is about methodologies and how to apply these to technology: digital curation through semantic web, long-term preservation with the CINES, sound alignment software, social media, sharing platforms. The articles in this section also discuss new technologies in education and fieldwork, and revitalisation of endangered languages into communities.

Digital dictionaries are also mentioned, especially the issues of standardization and interoperability. This topic is of great concern to us with HimalCo project where we are developing dictionaries based on the LMF ISO standard. This standard provides a model for the description of online dictionaries:
This standard also defines an XML format to represent these lexical data. The goal is to publish online dictionaries in an exchangeable and parsable format.

Another area of interest for us with HimalCo is the development of a smartphone application, which would enable minority speakers to access and propose modifications for online corpora.