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Assessing the difficulty of the text input task for minority languages

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Title: Assessing the difficulty of the text input task for minority languages
Issue Date: 12 Mar 2015
Description: Currently no framework exists to evaluate or rank the complexity of the text input task on a per orthography bases. We present on the challenges which must be addressed by a cross-language text input assessment framework. We discuss relevant user experience (UX) considerations for keyboard layouts and unique actions undertaken in the communicative act of ‘entextualizing’ language (typing). We follow previous work which focuses on majority language text input methods (Bellman & MacKenzie 1998, Castellucci & MacKenzie 2013, MacKenzie 1992, 2002, 2007, MacKenzie & Soukoreff 2002, Soukoreff & MacKenzie 2001, 2003a, b) and apply considerations for minority language orthographies - especially those orthographies which overtly mark tone and other distinctions via diacritics.

The ability to communicate with electronic text based devices is important in this era of globalization. Many minority language users often find it difficult to type in their languages because of the way that orthography/language specific characters are accessed through existing keyboard layouts ([Author] 2012). The keyboard layout is an essential component in text input both on mobile touch screen and traditional devices. Barriers to efficiently using text in digital mediums has a wide impact on language vitality, by affecting the way that language users perceive their language’s viability in the 21st century context. The text input challenge has been often acknowledged by minority language users (Esizmetor 2009: 13, Zheltov 2005). Perceptions about the need to be able to use text based digital communication devices has sufficiently challenged language communities leading some to change their orthographies (Boerger 2007: 133: South Pacific, Cooper 2005: 149, 160: Central Asia, Jany 2010: Americas). Simons and Lewis (2010) describe the social practice of literacy (EGIDS levels four and five) as a sign of a healthy language. A text input device which does not intuitively work for language users can be seen as discriminating and be a reason for speakers to choose to not use their language in digital mediums (Trosterud 2012). We propose a language agnostic framework for text input analysis for the benefit of language development efforts and software developers alike.


[Author]. 2012. Keyboard layout as part of language documentation: the case of the Meꞌphaa and Chinantec keyboards. Paper presented at CRASSH Language Endangerment: Methodologies and New Challenges, Cambridge, UK. Bellman, Tom & I. Scott MacKenzie. 1998. A Probabilistic Character Layout Strategy for Mobile Text Entry. Proceedings of Graphics Interface '98, 168-76. Toronto: Canadian Information Processing Society. Boerger, Brenda H. 2007. Natqgu Literacy: Capturing Three Domains for Written Language Use. Language Documentation & Conservation 1.2: 126–53. Castellucci, Steven J. & I. Scott MacKenzie. 2013. Gathering Text Entry Metrics on Android Devices. Proceedings of the International Conference on Multimedia and Human- Computer Interaction - MHCI 2013, 120.1-.8. Ottawa, Canada: International ASET, Inc. Cooper, Gregory. 2005. Issues in the Development of a Writing System for the Kalasha Language. Ph.D dissertation, Macquarie University. Esizmetor, David Oshorenoya. 2009. What Orthography for Naijá? Paper presented at Conference on Nigerian Pidgin, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Jany, Carmen. 2010. Orthography Design for Chuxnabán Mixe. Language DocumentatIon & ConservatIon 4.1: 231-53. Lewis, M. Paul & Gary F. Simons. 2010. Assessing endangerment: Expanding Fishman's GIDS. Revue Roumaine de Linguistique 55.2: 103–20. MacKenzie, I. Scott. 1992. Fitts' law as a research and design tool in human-computer interaction. Human-Computer Interaction 7, 91-139. MacKenzie, I. Scott. 2002. Introduction to this special issue on text entry for mobile computing. Human-Computer Interaction 17.2-3: 141-5. MacKenzie, I. Scott. 2007. Evaluation of text entry techniques. In I. Scott MacKenzie & Kumiko Tanaka-Ishii (eds.), Text entry systems: Mobility, accessibility, universality, 75-101. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann. MacKenzie, I. Scott & R. William Soukoreff. 2002. A Character-level Error Analysis Technique for Evaluating Text Entry Methods. A character-level error analysis technique for evaluating text entry methods. Proceedings of the Second Nordic Conference on Human- Computer Interaction -- NordiCHI 2002, 241-4. New York: ACM. Soukoreff, R. William & I. Scott MacKenzie. 2001. Measuring errors in text entry tasks: An application of the Levenshtein string distance statistic. Extended Abstracts of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI 2001, 319-20. New York: ACM. Soukoreff, R. William & I. Scott MacKenzie. 2003a. Metrics for text entry research: an evaluation of MSD and KSPC, and a new unified error metric. Paper presented at Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA. Soukoreff, R. William & I. Scott MacKenzie. 2003b. Input-based Language Modeling in the Design of High Performance Text Input Techniques. Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2003 (CIPS, Canadian Human-Computer Communication Society), 89-96. Halifax, Nova Scotia: A K Peters. Trosterud, Trond. 2012. A restricted freedom of choice: Linguistic diversity in the digital landscape. Nordlyd (Tromsø University Working Papers on Language and Linguistics) 39.2: 89-104. Zheltov, Pavel V. 2005. Minority languages and computerization. The situation in the Russian Federation. OGMIOS 3.3: 8-11.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:4th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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