Revitalizing Indigenous languages through mobile apps and human connections

Backgrounder

The National Research Council of Canada and Indigenous experts celebrate software for verb conjugation, predictive text, and other technologies developed together

Indigenous Languages Technology Project Information about subprojects

  1. Project to develop Mohawk verb conjugator and other technologies for Indigenous languages
    • The NRC project team released WordWeaver in 2019, an open source code and graphical user interface to create online verb conjugation tools for Iroquoian languages.
    • Working closely with experts from the Onkwawenna Kentyohkwa immersion school on the Six Nations of Grand River reserve, the team used Wordweaver to build Kawennón:nis, a web-based verb conjugator for Ohswé:ken, the western dialect of Mohawk.
    • The next phase of the project includes working with other Mohawk communities to expand WordWeaver to the Kahnawà:ke (eastern) dialect, to make it easier for more Mohawk speakers to tackle verb conjugation in this structurally complex language.
    • Extending the tool to other Iroquoian languages, such as Wendat and Algonquian languages, is planned for 2020.
  2. Project to create predictive text software
    • In 2019 the NRC project team also delivered a predictive text software for SENĆOŦEN, released as part of Keyman 12.
    • Mobile device users have enjoyed predictive text suggestions for years when typing in English and other high-resource languages. Now, people typing in SENĆOŦEN can benefit from the same speed and ease of having predictive text at their fingertips.
    • The aim is to help engage young people in learning Indigenous languages and increase language use in everyday contexts.
    • Next year, the team hopes to help expand predictive text capabilities to other West Coast languages.
  3. Project to segment and index audio recordings of Indigenous languages
    • Another aim of the project is to enable keyword search of audio recordings in Inuktitut, Cree, and other Indigenous languages.
    • Using audio files from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Indigenous experts from the Pirurvik Centre are providing transcriptions of stories told by their Elders in Inuktitut.
    • Collaborators at the Computer Research Institute of Montreal (CRIM) are using these transcriptions to index and segment the audio files.
    • CRIM released 5 audio processing tools in 2019, and is working toward accessible keyword search in 2020.
  4. Project to update the Algonquian dictionaries, linguistic atlas, and other learning tools for Indigenous languages
    • The NRC project team welcomed visiting scholar Dr. Marie-Odile Junker, Full Professor at Carleton University, to work on web-based Algonquian dictionaries, spell checkers, verb conjugators and a linguistic atlas.
  5. Project to create Inuktut language software and perform new text alignment of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly proceedings
    • The NRC initiated a project with the Nunavut Legislative Assembly and the Pirurvik Centre to develop technologies for Inuktut language learners and professionals that reinforce Inuktut’s status as an official language.
  6. Project to create online Indigenous language courses
    • The NRC is contributing to the creation of 4 online language courses for Kwak’wala, Michif, Mi’kmaw, and Naskapi, through 7000 Languages.

A second wave of projects launched in fall 2019 will be also added to the NRC’s website in 2020. 


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