The Universities South Africa (USAf), through its Community of Practice for the Teaching and Learning of African Languages (CoPAL), is working with universities towards the implementation of the DHET’s New Language Policy Framework for Public Higher Education Institutions.
The importance of promoting multilingualism and situating African languages at the centre of the academy to drive the sector priorities of institutional transformation, epistemic access and student success formed the founding ideals of the Vice-Chancellors Colloquium.
One of the central outcomes of the inaugural VC Colloquium was for SADiLaR, a strategic national Research Infrastructure under the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR), to conduct a comprehensive language resources audit across all the public universities. The language resources audit will inter alia access the resources the universities require to implement the new framework.
Process to date
USAf, organised the first, in a three-part series, of the Vice-Chancellors Colloquia to discuss the new Language Policy Framework for Public Higher Education Institutions.
The aim is to improve student access and success through the decolonisation of the curriculum in our higher education institutions.
This event was hosted by Stellenbosch University and the USAf COPAL on 28- 29 September 2021.
Objectives of the audit
Define the range of resources that are required for the implementation of a language policy framework.
Identify resources that are available in your institution to enable the implementation of a language policy framework.
Identify milestones in the successful implementation of your institutional language policy.
This Language Resource Audit was further endorsed by the USAf Board (Vice-Chancellors) at its meeting on 14 June 2022.
The audit is scheduled to run from July 2022 to July 2023.
Completed: University of KwaZulu-Natal pilot - 27 - 28 July 2022
Draft schedule for 2022
Please note this schedule is still in draft and is subject to change. Please check this page regularly to see when the audit will take place at your institution.
Confirmed: North-West University (NWU) pilot - 24 October 2022
Confirmed: University of Venda (UNIVEN) - 31 October 2022
Proposed: University of Limpopo (UL) - 22/23 February 2023
Confirmed: University of Mpumalanga (UMP) - 4 November 2022
Confirmed: Vaal University of Technology - 22 November 2022
Proposed: Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) - 23 November 2022
Proposed: Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) - 24 November 2022
Proposed: University of Pretoria (UP) - February 2023
Proposed: University of South Africa (UNISA) - 28 November 2022
Proposed: University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) - 29 November 2022
Proposed: University of Johannesburg (UJ) - February 2023
At the USAf Board meeting of 14 June 2022, the Vice-Chancellors of Universities of South Africa endorsed the Language Resource Audit.
The aims of the audit are to:
Define resources i.e. define the range of resources that are required for the implementation of a language policy framework.
Identify resources i.e. identify resources that are available in your institution to enable the implementation of a language policy framework.
Identify milestones i.e. identify milestones in the successful implementation of your institutional language policy.
It has been confirmed with USAf that separate ethical clearance will therefore not be sought given that the commissioning, data collection and final reporting will be done in line with what was endorsed and requested by the USAf board which consists of the Vice-Chancellors of the Universities of South Africa.
What the audit will entail in a nutshell:
Two questionnaires were designed and will be administered at all institutions. The first is aimed at students, and the second is aimed at staff/management members.
These questionnaires are based on the USAf directive and endorsement, principles underlying qualitative and quantitative research design, the use of surveys as research instruments, and inputs from subject experts both locally and internationally.
The questionnaires contain both restricted (typical Likert scale) and open-ended questions. There are differences in focus between the two questionnaires. There is also a repetition of questions to ascertain whether both students and staff/management have the same understanding and awareness of language resources at a particular institution.
For quantitative data analyses frequencies will be counted, histograms and tables presented and statistical measures for different aspects.
For qualitative data analyses, which will entail in-person discussion during site visits, the principles of attribute and magnitude coding will be followed. To this end method issues will be considered (hermeneutic approach for content analysis), technology issues will be considered (code books, frequencies and code quotes), and project design issues will be considered (consistency of coding team members, the codebook editor, and reporting).
Principles of ethical research practice will be adhered to – participation is voluntary, and nobody will be disadvantaged by contributing to the research.
First workshop on Resources for African Indigenous Languages (RAIL)
Free, online workshop
The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) is organizing a workshop (originally expected to be held at the LREC 2020 conference in Marseille, France) in the field of African Indigenous Language Resources. This workshop aims to bring together researchers who are interested in showcasing their research and thereby boosting the field of African indigenous languages. This provides an overview of the current state-of-the-art and emphasizes availability of African indigenous language resources, including both data and tools. Additionally, it allows for information sharing among researchers interested in African indigenous languages as well as starting discussions on improving the quality and availability of the resources. Many African indigenous languages currently have no or very limited resources available and, additionally, they are often structurally quite different from more well-resourced languages, requiring the development and use of specialized techniques. By bringing together researchers from different fields (e.g., (computational) linguistics, sociolinguistics, language technology) to discuss the development of language resources for African indigenous languages, we hope to boost research in this field.
The Resources for African Indigenous Languages (RAIL) workshop is an interdisciplinary platform for researchers working on resources (data collections, tools, etc.) specifically targeted towards African indigenous languages. It aims to create the conditions for the emergence of a scientific community of practice that focuses on data, as well as tools, specifically designed for or applied to indigenous languages found in Africa. With the UNESCO-supported International Year of Indigenous Languages, there is currently much interest in indigenous languages. The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues mentioned that "40 percent of the estimated 6,700 languages spoken around the world were in danger of disappearing" and the "languages represent complex systems of knowledge and communication and should be recognized as a strategic national resource for development, peace building and reconciliation." As such, the workshop falls within one of the hot topic areas of this year's conference: "Less Resourced and Endangered Languages".
Topics include the following:
Language collections (description and creation)
Computational linguistic tools
The RAIL workshop will, unfortunately, not be held in Marseille, France this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, the workshop will take place online. Participation is free. However, if you want to participate, you will need to register on EventBrite. Details on how to join the workshop will be sent out to registered participants. The workshop will take place on Saturday 16 May 2020 from 9:00 until 13:00 SAST.
Free virtual workshop on African indigenous languages
09:10-09:30 Endangered African Languages Featured in a Digital Collection: The Case of the ‡Khomani San | Hugh Brody Collection
Kerry Jones and Sanjin Muftic
09:30-09:50 Usability and Accessibility of Bantu Language Dictionaries in the Digital Age: Mobile Access in an Open Environment
Thomas Eckart, Sonja Bosch, Uwe Quasthoff, Erik Körner, Dirk Goldhahn and Simon Kaleschke
09:50-10:10 Investigating an Approach for Low Resource Language Dataset Creation, Curation and Classification: Setswana and Sepedi
Vukosi Marivate, Tshephisho Sefara and Abiodun Modupe
10:10-10:30 Comparing Neural Network Parsers for a Less-resourced and Morphologically-rich Language: Amharic Dependency Parser
Binyam Ephrem Seyoum, Yusuke Miyao and Baye Yimam Mekonnen
10:30-10:50 Mobilizing Metadata: Open Data Kit (ODK) for Language Resource Development in East Africa
10:50-11:20 Coffee break
11:20-11:40 A Computational Grammar of Ga
11:40-12:00 Navigating Challenges of Multilingual Resource Development for Under-Resourced Languages: The Case of the African Wordnet Project
Marissa Griesel and Sonja Bosch
12:00-12:20 Building Collaboration-based Resources in Endowed African Languages: Case of NTeALan Dictionaries Platform
Elvis Mboning Tchiaze, Jean Marc Bassahak, Daniel Baleba, Ornella Wandji and Jules Assoumou
Identify, Describe and Share your LRs!
Describing your LRs in the LRE Map is now a normal practice in the submission procedure of LREC (introduced in 2010 and adopted by other conferences). To continue the efforts initiated at LREC 2014 about “Sharing LRs” (data, tools, web-services, etc.), authors will have the possibility, when submitting a paper, to upload LRs in a special LREC repository. This effort of sharing LRs, linked to the LRE Map for their description, may become a new “regular” feature for conferences in our field, thus contributing to creating a common repository where everyone can deposit and share data.
As scientific work requires accurate citations of referenced work so as to allow the community to understand the whole context and also replicate the experiments conducted by other researchers, LREC 2020 endorses the need to uniquely Identify LRs through the use of the International Standard Language Resource Number (ISLRN, www.islrn.org), a Persistent Unique Identifier to be assigned to each Language Resource. The assignment of ISLRNs to LRs cited in LREC papers will be offered at submission time.
The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) is a national centre supported by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). SADiLaR has an enabling function, with a focus on all official languages of South Africa, supporting research and development in the domains of language technologies and language-related studies in the humanities and social sciences. READ MORE...
Last month four SADiLaR researchers attended the 23rd Biennial International Conference of the African Languages Association of Southern Africa. Rooweither Mabuya, Andiswa Bukula,Muzi Matfunjwa and Benito Trollip all presented papers, but, say the four, the value of SADiLaR staff attending conferences goes far beyond presenting research.
In order for speech-language therapists to be able to accurately identify delays in language development they need to have access to the norms of child language acquisition in a specific language, and in Africa, this information is not available.
The Spelling Checkers for South African Languages, a spelling and hyphenation checker tool for ten of South Africa’s official languages excluding English, is now available free to download from our website. The spell checker tool offers an extensive wordlist for Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Siswati, Sesotho, Sesotho sa Leboa, Setswana, Tshivenḓa and Xitsonga.
To build up the field of linguistics in nine of South Africa’s official languages the University of South Africa (UNISA) node of SADiLaR, which focuses on language resource development, has created a linguistics termbank which is now freely available online.
DH-IGNITE is a regional event hosted by SADiLaR and the ESCALATOR programme aiming to support the development of an active community of practice in Digital Humanities (DH) and Computational Social Sciences (CSS) in South Africa.
6 DH-IGNITE events to reach all 26 public universities across the country.
Participate in person or virtually.
We’ll talk about digital/computational methodologies in humanities and social sciences!
SADiLaR dedicated the month of July to celebrate Sesotho sa Leboa as an official language of South Africa.
The month of July saw a huge turnout at SADiLaR’s celebration of three South African languages, held at the University of Limpopo. This forms part of the local support of UNESCO's 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages.
Some 330 people attended the celebrations of Sesotho sa Leboa, Tshivenḓa and Xitsonga on 31 July. SADiLaR has initiated celebrations for each of the 11 official languages of South Africa by hosting collaborative events such as workshops and colloquiums at various universities in South Africa to share ideas and take action in creating awareness of our languages and in working on the development of our languages and language resources.