Building online dictionaries for a Taiwanese indigenous language in a collaborative team

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2009-03-14
Authors
Rau, Victoria
Yang, Meng-Chien
Dong, Maa-Neu
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This paper features collaboration among community members, linguists, and computer scientists with the goal of producing both traditional and wiki online dictionaries. It reports an ongoing project on building an online dictionary in Yami (http://yamibow.cs.pu.edu.tw), supported by the Council of Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan. There are three core members in the collaborative team, each pair of whom has produced a separate product. The collaboration between the linguist and the community language activist over a decade has produced a traditional dictionary, made using Toolbox and Lexique Pro. The interaction between the community members and the computer scientist has resulted in development of a wiki online dictionary using the concepts and techniques of Web 2.0 to provide a platform for Formosan language activists to initiate language documentation and archiving. The collaboration between the linguist and the computer scientist has resulted in research on ontology, using Protégé to reconstruct indigenous knowledge. Each of the three separate products has extended applications for language revitalization and capacity building. The traditional dictionary in both print version and online version, published in July 2008, has provided resources for Yami teenagers preparing for Yami language proficiency test to enter better high schools and universities, although the impact of this dictionary is yet to be investigated. The participatory wiki online dictionary has interested several Formosan language activists to contribute to the system. The following four issues are to be resolved: (1) protection of the language resources, (2) steps of editing and annotation for the online resources, (3) identification of the user group, and (4) language sharing policy, as it is being developed into a full-fledged system for all indigenous language groups in Taiwan. Finally, the building of an ontology based on traditional domains has established the necessary foundation for better material development to teach indigenous languages and cultures. The methodology used to build Yami fish names will provide an example for the construction of other ontologies in Yami and other Formosan languages. This paper will be presented in Yami, Chinese and English, a reflection of the languages involved in building this online resource. The Yami language project will provide an inspiring case of language documentation and conservation to illustrate how online dictionaries have been produced in a collaborative team and how technology has been used in the process.
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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
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