VentureBeat: The Masakhane project wants machine translation and AI to transform Africa

VentureBeat: The Masakhane project wants machine translation and AI to transform Africa. “English, Arabic, and French dialects can be found on parts of the African continent and are used across tribes, ethnic groups, and national borders, but none is native to Africa. Some estimates put the number of living languages on the continent at 2,000 or more. This can stand in the way of communication as well as commerce, and earlier this year such concerns led to the creation of the Masakhane open source project, an effort being undertaken by African technologists to translate African languages using neural machine translation.”

CBC: Stoney Nakoda word collection helps preserve language for future generations

CBC: Stoney Nakoda word collection helps preserve language for future generations. “Stoney Nakoda elder Terry Rider leans forward and carefully pronounces a Stoney word into a microphone. It’s a big responsibility for him and the four others gathered in one of several booths in a back room at the Stoney Nakoda Resort & Casino west of Calgary. The recordings and spellings they provide will be used by future generations on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, keeping the language alive in that community.”

Slate: The Complicated Decisions That Come With Digitizing Indigenous Languages

Slate: The Complicated Decisions That Come With Digitizing Indigenous Languages. “When Europeans first made contact with tribes across the continent, more than 2,000 languages were being spoken. Today, after centuries of forced relocations, broken treaties, abusive residential schools, and other discriminatory practices, only 256 languages are spoken. A full 199 are endangered, according to the Catalogue of Endangered Languages. Yet even after everything those communities endured, they’re fighting for their words—and the ability to protect them. New technology like smartphone keyboards, language-learning apps, and digital databases makes revitalization work easier than ever, but it also requires hard conversations about which parts of a language must be kept offline.”

Alaska Native News: National Science Foundation Supports Additional Alutiiq Language Research

Alaska Native News: National Science Foundation Supports Additional Alutiiq Language Research. “With a $56,462 grant from the National Science Foundation (award #1360839), the Alutiiq Museum will extend its Naken–Natmen (Where From–Where To) language project for an additional year. First funded in 2014, the multi-year project improved access to Alutiiq language resources by developing an online archive of Alutiiq recordings, creating an Alutiiq speaker registry, and planning future language documentation projects. Now, a supplemental grant will allow the museum to study rare examples of written Alutiiq preserved in historic texts.”

NPR: Historic Recordings Revitalize Language For Passamaquoddy Tribal Members

NPR: Historic Recordings Revitalize Language For Passamaquoddy Tribal Members. “Dwayne Tomah sits at his kitchen table in Perry, Maine, and pulls up an audio file on his computer. When he hits play, the speakers emit a cracked, slightly garbled recording. Through the white noise, Tomah scratches out the words he hears, rewinding every few seconds. Word by word, Tomah is attempting to transcribe and interpret dozens of recordings of Passamaquoddy tribal members, some of which are only recently being heard and publicly shared for the first time in more than a century.”

CBC: Hear Indigenous language speakers from around the globe through Google Earth

CBC: Hear Indigenous language speakers from around the globe through Google Earth. “Users of Google Earth are now able to hear over 50 Indigenous language speakers from across the globe saying words and simple phrases and even singing traditional songs. The project, called Celebrating Indigenous Languages, is designed to honour the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages.”

Tweeting in Zapotec: Social Media as a Tool for Language Activists (Academia)

Academia: Tweeting in Zapotec: Social Media as a Tool for Language Activists. “Social media is used by speakers of languages big and small. For languages with a small number of speakers, social media may offer opportunities not easily available elsewhere, such as low-cost publishing and distribution of text. Furthermore, smaller languages are often devalued by surrounding communitiesÑin these situations, the use of language in global media, such as Twitter, can have additional layers of impact and can be a form of language activism in itself.”