Being undogmatic in the way you approach your data: Impressions of the CATMA workshop held at the University of Stellenbosch
The Stellenbosch University Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, in collaboration with Hamburg University and the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources hosted a workshop on CATMA (Computer Assisted Text Markup and Analysis) from 20 – 21 June 2019. The presenters of the workshop were Professor Jan Christoph Meister (Chris), Dr. Jan Horstmann, and Marie Flüh (M.Ed.) from the University of Hamburg. The workshop started with a brief introduction by Professor Meister, followed by the workshop participants introducing their current or future projects/research. The research introduced ranged from translation studies and lexicography to the detection of animals in Afrikaans literature.
As language educators, we need to understand how our learners/students are changing and the ways technology can be used to aid their teaching and learning strategies. The movement towards multimodal language learning, from contact teaching to autonomous as well as blended and fully online modes, requires different skill sets such as e-moderation and new ways of designing and developing language learning tasks in the digital age.
With this workshop, we will engage with participants in an interactive manner to empower them to eventually contribute to the larger language user community (teachers, learners, lecturers and students, general public/newspapers).
Celebrating Setswana as an official language of South Africa
As part of its participation in the UNESCO Year of Indigenous Language Project, the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) has dedicated the month of May to the celebration of Setswana as an official language of South Africa. The main celebration event was held at the North-West University’s Mafikeng Campus on 6 May 2019. SADiLaR joined hands with the South African National Lexicography Units (SANLU) to create a platform for language specialists, academics, researchers, students and the public to be part of an initiative to celebrate language, culture and heritage.
The celebration of Afrikaans in multiple universes
The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) dedicated the month of April to the celebration of Afrikaans as an official language of South Africa. The theme of The multiple universes of Afrikaans was used as the thread that sewed all of the month’s events – that included a webinar, theatre workshop, and main celebration – together. This theme created a platform of growth, development, collaboration and inspiration.
In this first Afrikaans webinar from SADiLaR Benito Trollip, SADiLaR's Afrikaans researcher, and Wemar Strydom, literature lecturer from the NWU's Subject Group Afrikaans, join forces. The text that serves as the basis for the discussion is Charl-Pierre Naudé's debut novel, Die ongelooflike onskuld van Dirkie Verwey (2018). The webinar's focus is on unlocking possibilities of the novel: digitally through available methods and software, but also thematic and structural.
The workshop on multiple universes in Afrikaans one-on-one theatre, (Die ewewêrelde in Afrikaanse een-tot-eenteater) led by SADiLaR’s Afrikaans researcher Benito Trollip, offered many practical examples of how multiple worlds can be created. The workshop forms part of the month long celebration of Afrikaans as part of SADiLaR’s 2019 language celebrations.
Sesotho celebration – in honour of language, culture and heritage
Sesotho came to life during the language celebration event that was held at the University of the Free State (UFS) on 14 March 2019. The event was organised by the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) in collaboration with the South African National Lexicography Unit (SANLU).
Celebration of isiZulu as an official language of South Africa
The isiZulu celebration was held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg Campus) on 1 March 2019. There were 86 attendees, including students and lecturers from the University, members from the Department of Arts and Culture, from eThekwini Municipality and from the South African National Lexicography Units (SANLU).
The South African Centre for Digital Languages Resources (SADiLaR) celebrated isiZulu as an official language of South Africa during the whole of February. As part of the celebrations, our isiZulu researcher, Ms Rooweither Mabuya, joined a non-profit organisation, Legacy Creators, to conduct school visits in KwaZulu-Natal. The purpose of the visits was to create awareness of various fields of study at different universities.
The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) has become a home for isiZulu researcher, Ms Rooweither Mabuya. Rooweither’s passion for language and linguistics was ignited during her studies at the University of Kwazulu-Natal. During her first year, she decided to select English Studies as her undergraduate major, not knowing that one day she would major in linguistics in her honours and master’s studies as well.
Announcement: SADiLaR's project manager elected to serve The Carpentries
The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) is proud to announce that our project manager, Mr Juan Steyn, was elected as one of the Executive Council members of The Carpentries project for 2019.
The Carpentries project plays a fundamental role in providing worldwide training with the mission of teaching foundational computational and data science skills to researchers. The communities involved include Software, Data and Library Carpentries.
Text-to-speech technology offers youngster a suitable voice
In May this year, Carte Blanche aired a programme on text-to-speech (TTS) technology and voice banking which featured an insert on Alexander Avenant, a learner at New Hope School in Pretoria. Alexander, at that stage, used the CSIR's Qfrency adult male Afrikaans TTS voice with augmentative and alternative communication software, because that was all that was available at that stage. In the interview with Carte Blanche, Alexander mentions that he does not like the fact that the voice sounds like an "Oom", and not like himself – a boy.
Over the course of September and October, SADiLaR’s technical manager, Dr Roald Eiselen, visited with various European centres that form part of the Common Language Resource Infrastructure (CLARIN). The aim of the visits was to establish connections that will lead to future cooperation and collaboration with entities performing activities similar to those of SADiLaR. The visits provided useful insights on the various technologies and resources available from CLARIN, and it is clear that the implementation and reuse of technical infrastructures from these institutions will significantly reduce the cost and time required to further our objectives.
Language forms the heart and soul of communication, traditions, social integration, and education. Language also plays a vital role in representing various cultures and traditions, as well as capturing the history of a community. There are more than 6000 languages spoken in the world but, at this very moment, many of these languages are disappearing – partly due to the lack of a digital footprint, language resources, and a lack of data captured for the development of these languages.
The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources is excited to announce that a call for proposals has been launched and submissions opened on 31 January 2018. This is an opportunity to participate in the development infrastructure and play a significant role in the development of language resources and technologies for the South African languages.
The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) has been established to foster digital research and development growth in the official languages of South Africa SADiLaR forms part of the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) new South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR), for the large scale development of research capacity in South Africa.
SADiLaR launches a new website and data repository
SADiLaR is excited to announce the launch of our website, which sets the foundation for us in our expanding role as African leader in the digital humanities (DH) and natural language processing (NLP) domains.
Integrating the RMA into SADiLaR with new technologies
Over the past five years the Language Resource Management Agency (RMA) has been the central repository for the distribution and management of language resources, data and software tools, for the official languages of South Africa. The RMA has provided an excellent foundation for SADiLaR to build on.
Nodes @ SADiLaR: CSIR Meraka Institute (HLT Research Group)
The CSIR Meraka Institute focuses on shaping South Africa’s digital future and is known for the research, development and innovation in the information and communication technology sector. Within the Institute, the Human Language Technology (HLT) Research Group focuses on solving communication challenges that South Africa face as a result of the lack of language resources and data.
Nodes @ SADiLaR: University of South Africa (UNISA): Department of African Languages
The Department of African Languages at UNISA is committed to the promotion, development and use of the South African languages. The Department conducts research that contributes to the advancement of knowledge of African languages, promotes scholarship in African languages and serves as a partner by reaching out to the community through its expertise in African languages.