The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR), in conjunction with the North-West University (NWU), is offering a postdoctoral fellowship for suitably qualified candidates in the fields of digital humanities (DH), computational linguistics, corpus linguistics, digital lexicography, data mining and visualisation, digital curation, or related fields.
SADiLaR is a national research infrastructure whose mandate is to focus on digital text and speech resource development of the official languages of South Africa. It runs two programmes, one of which is a digitisation programme which includes the systematic creation of relevant digital text, speech and multi-modal resources for these languages, as well as the development of appropriate natural language processing tools for research and development purposes. The second is a DH programme which facilitates research capacity-building by promoting and supporting the use of digital data and innovative methodological approaches within the Humanities and Social Sciences.
The successful candidate will be required to:
Perform research on one or more South African languages in the context of DH or a related field
Produce and publish accredited, peer-reviewed articles in the domains of SADiLaR’s main programmes
Participate in research projects managed or executed by SADiLaR
Provide limited research support to junior researchers
Assist with capacity-building in the field of DH through the presentation of workshops, and assistance with the conceptualisation of DH projects on a national basis
A doctoral degree in an appropriate field associated with digital humanities obtained within the past five years. Fields can include - AI; Machine Learning; Computer Studies; Data Science etc.
A proven track record of publications in journals and/or conference proceedings
Demonstrable programming experience for data processing and visualisation OR knowledge of data analysis and visualisation tools used in DH research
Good communication skills (written and verbal)
Experience in working in teams
The aim of the grant is to fund successful candidates at per annum tax free from NWU funding.
A further maximum amount of R20 000 per annum will be made available for running costs.
A once-off amount to a maximum of R20 000 will be made available for relocation costs.
Full funding (accommodation, subsistence, travel and registration costs) to attend at least one recognised international conference annually, to disseminate accepted paper(s) related to research.
Fellowships are awarded for an initial period of one year, renewable for a second and third year, subject to the following conditions:
Satisfactory progress on the research project(s) as agreed with the fellowship advisor
Productive integration into the research group
Availability of funding
Research Infrastructure: SADiLaR will provide the successful candidate with necessary research infrastructure as well as project funding to successfully execute the candidate’s duties. Project funding will be awarded based on accepted research proposal(s) that will be evaluated on an ad hoc basis.
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).
Our presenters include local as well as international scholars who have solid track records of working in the field of language learning and multimodal approaches in teaching and learning. We have three broad topics that will be addressed by sharing best practices and involving participants.
Topic 1: Added value of online language learning and support - digital tool development for the language classroom
Introduction to the syllabus and course design in a multimodal language learning environment (Prof. Kris van de Poel)
A digital showcase:
Skryfhulp - Writing support; the development of an online writing support tool (Ms Suléne Pilon, Mr DJ Cloete, ???)
Write-it - Multi-modal academic writing assistance (Mr Zander Janse van Rensburg, Mr DJ Cloete)
Wired - Writing, Information Literacy and Reading Development (Dr Kristien Andrianatos, Prof. Tobie van Dyk)
Interactive session: round table discussion
Beauty and the beast: What happens behind the scenes?
FAQs: Costs, Timelines, Human Resources, Software
Topic 2: Best practices
Moving from general to specific (Prof. Kris van de Poel, Prof. Lieve de Wachter)
Interculturate (a platform for developing language for specific purposes) – Summarising as a component of transactional writing (Prof. Kris van de Poel)
Taalvast (a platform for academic language learning) – Developing presentation skills (Prof. Lieve de Wachter)
Topic 3: Assessment
Test purpose: achievement, progress, placement, diagnostics (Prof. Tobie van Dyk)
Diagnostic language testing (Prof. Albert Weideman, Ms Anneke Butler)
Fair and unbiased language testing (Prof. Tobie van Dyk)
From generic to specific (Prof. Kris van de Poel)
Is online really that different from paper-based? (Prof. Albert Weideman)
Interactive session: round table discussion
Beauty and the beast: What happens behind the scenes?
FAQs: Costs, Timelines, Human Resources, Software
A maximum of 15 participants can be accommodated in this free of charge workshop, funded by SADiLaR.
The workshop will be held four times at different universities. Click on the workshop that you are interested in for more information and to register for the event.
As the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources initiated the celebration of all official languages, by means of hosting various workshops and colloquiums at various universities in South Africa, isiXhosa enjoyed the spotlight for the September celebrations. These initiatives aim to share ideas and take action in creating awareness of our languages and in working on the development of our languages and language resources.
At an event recently held in Makhanda in the Eastern Cape, some 110 people attended the glamorous isiXhosa occasion as it forms part of the local support of UNESCO's 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages.
The recent celebration saw high profile speakers in the fields of language research. They were applauded by the audience for making huge contributions towards the development of the isiXhosa language. They included:
Prof Ncedile Saule, a research fellow at Rhodes University where he promotes Masters and Doctoral students within the School of Language and Literature at the Department of African Languages and Creative Writing;
Terence Ball, currently working for the South African National Lexicography Units where he represents the official languages of South Africa;
Pindo Cynthia Somkebe, a senior educational specialist in the Chris Hani West district;
Nontembiso Putumo-Jaxa, a senior educational specialist for isiXhosa in the Eastern Cape Department of Education;
Nomthandazo Mbena-Lilatyi, a senior educational specialist for isiXhosa in the Eastern Cape Department of Education;
Professor Menzi Meshack Minsie Duka, an academic, community leader, author and poet who writes in isiXhosa and English;
Dr Hleze Kunju, the associate head of Creative Writing at Rhodes University’s School of Language and Literacy.
Andiswa Bukula, a SADiLaR researcher for isiXhosa, welcomed the audience and explained the role of SADiLaR in the South African context. “The atmosphere here today is contagious! We are privileged to be able to celebrate our language today and I thank you for the great attendance. SADiLaR offers training and workshops in various digital tools at national level and together with our partners from all other universities, we aim to unlock the full spectrum of resources to create a broader digitalized footprint of South Africa’s indigenous languages. We are thankful for everyone’s support in our mission,” she said.
SADiLaR, hosted by the North-West University, mainly runs two programmes:
A digitisation programme, which entails the systematic creation of relevant digital text, speech and multi-modal resources related to all official languages of South Africa. The development of appropriate natural language processing software tools for research and development purposes are included as part of the digitisation programme.
A Digital Humanities programme, which facilitates the building of research capacity by promoting and supporting the use of digital data and innovative methodological approaches within the Humanities and Social Sciences.
The event also received a message of support from the Secretary-General of the South African National Commission for UNESCO, Mr Carlton Lufuno Mukwevho.
“The National Development Plan recognises and restates the importance of African languages as integral to science and technology education and to the development and preservation of these languages. The United Nations declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages in order to raise awareness of them, not only to benefit the people who speak these languages, but also for others to appreciate the important contribution they make to our world’s rich cultural diversity. South Africa as a Member State of the United Nations supports this very important drive as it is through language that we communicate with the world, define our identity, express our history and culture, learn, defend our human rights and participate in all aspects of society, to name but a few. Through language, people preserve their community’s history, customs and traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking, meaning and expression. We also use it to imagine our individual as well as collective future as it is pivotal in the areas of human rights protection, good governance, peace building, reconciliation and sustainable development, Mr Mukwevho said.”
One of the attendees, Bulelwa Nosilela, said she is grateful to be part of this celebration. “This is an extraordinary event where we also had the opportunity to acknowledge the work of isiXhosa people who have passed on. Thank you to everyone who made this day possible. It is evident that dedication towards the development of indigenous languages enjoyed priority.”
SADiLaR is a national infrastructure funded by the Department of Science and Innovation as part of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap.
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 event opened with a presentation by SADiLaR’s Setswana researcher, Ms Valencia Wagner, who shared information about the Centre as a national research infrastructure as well as the function of SADiLaR that offers various tools and technologies to assist in language research and development. The Secretary-General of the South African Mission to UNESCO, Mr Carlton Mukwevho, then had the opportunity to explain to the audience the role that UNESCO is playing in promoting indigenous languages internationally. He also touched on the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages and offered his support to all of the SADiLaR language celebration events. Mr M.D. Mothoagae then took the audience back in time and gave a historical background of the Setswana language and the development of the language throughout the years. In a very philosophical presentation, Prof Daniel Matjila from the University of South Africa was able to capture the audience’s attention with his presentation on new ways of teaching Setswana Literature.
Mr Motheo Koitsiwe, from the North-West University, then touched on Indigenous Knowledge Systems and the role it plays in teaching and learning as well as the importance for future development of the indigenous languages of South Africa. Dr Baile Mareme, NLU leader: Setswana, in an entertaining presentation addressed the development of dictionaries, focusing on the Setswana language. Mr Terence Ball, SANLU representative, then spoke of the constitutional obligations that all government departments and SANLU have towards our indigenous languages and the importance of the use of dictionaries in these languages to improve literacy levels. Dr Hlengiwe Mashele, Executive Director: Xitsonga NLU, then read out a message of support of the language celebration events from the NLUs as the President of the South African National Lexicography Units.
The event was attended by approximately 80 people, among whom were delegates of the Dikgosi: House of Traditional Council, lecturers, students, academics and the public. The entertainment for the celebration event was traditional dancing done by the Diselammapa Cultural Group. It was a successful day that brought people together to celebrate Setswana and the sacred value it keeps.
SADiLaR is a national infrastructure funded by the Department of Science and Technology as part of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap. The centre is celebrating all of the official languages of South Africa by dedicating each month to a language as part of the United Nations’ International Year of Indigenous Languages. The entire month of May is dedicated to Setswana – the language, traditions and heritage.
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.
The main event was held on 17 April 2019 at the North-West University’s (NWU) Sports Village. Mr Benito Trollip, SADiLaR’s Afrikaans researcher and organiser of the event, opened the floor with an introduction of the celebration and an overview of SADiLaR. The book prize winner of the University of Johannesburg, Charl-Pierre Naudé, with his novel Die ongelooflike onskuld van Dirkie Verwey, was the keynote speaker of the event. The audience was taken through the chronicles of the novel and had the opportunity to be part of the discussion. Charl-Pierre wants to urge readers to explore and spy during their reading of the book and his presentation inspired those who have not yet read the novel to do so. Quentin Williams then addressed the issue of language activism and non-racist practices in an open-minded and inspiring manner, bringing to light the Afrikaans in the Cape Town region known as AfriKaaps. In a very interesting and relevant talk, Karien Brits from the ATKV introduced the Afrikaans trolls to the audience. Living in the digital era, we are exposed to various platforms and we all have the right to make our voices heard. Karien touched on the positive and negative contributions made on these platforms and the effect of these on language development. “We may live and work in our different multiple universes of Afrikaans, but these worlds intersect and Afrikaans organisations must know about these links to become fully-fledged organisations. Let us be responsible in Afrikaans and promote positive discussions between these multiple universes of Afrikaans.” Prof Ernst Kotzé then had the opportunity to share his knowledge of the development of Afrikaans, especially with regard to the influence of Arabic, taking the audience back to the origin of Afrikaans and the variety of dimensions in which the language is used.
After lunch Prof Gerhard van Huyssteen mapped out Afrikaans in the format of a TV series episode in an exuberant and energetic manner. He demonstrated how the language developed throughout the centuries and emphasised the rapid rate that the language moved forward in the 21st century. He also posed the question whether it’s worth the time (left in this episode) to nit-pick on issues like the use of the Afrikaans term “huidiglik” (currently). Ms Allison Geduld, a lecturer from the NWU Law Faculty, in an inspiring presentation, captured the audience’s attention by giving them a scope of her experience of Afrikaans while growing up in Somerset-East and moving to Potchefstroom. She asked what it means to be Afrikaans and whether it brings a certain ethical responsibility.
SADiLaR is a national infrastructure funded by the Department of Science and Technology as part of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap. The centre is celebrating all of the official languages of South Africa by dedicating each month to a language as part of the United Nations’ International Year of Indigenous Languages. The entire month of April is dedicated to Afrikaans – and the multiple universes that speakers thereof inhabit.