Repositories pivotal for language preservation
Two researchers from the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) share their findings on the existence, use and importance of language repositories in the latest issue of the Journal of the Digital Humanities Association of Southern Africa (DHASA), a peer-reviewed open-access journal of DHASA.
Revitalising siPhuthi: language and culture
Language and culture are closely intertwined; a person’s language influences their perceptions of the world and shapes their cultural identity. This is why, when a language is lost, we lose so much. Dr Sheena Shah and Dr Matthias Brenzinger are working on a SADiLaR-supported project in collaboration with the ebaPhuthi (Phuthi people), a minority group in Lesotho and South Africa, to restore and revitalise the siPhuthi language. This is taking place through several initiatives, including working with the community to develop and produce a multimodal corpus of siPhuthi. Key to this project is the active involvement of the community.
Dr Marais elected representative of nodes on SADiLaR’s steering committee
SADiLaR’s Governance Steering Committee is pleased to announce the nomination of Dr Laurette Marais as representative of the nodes of SADiLaR on the committee.
Marais is a senior researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and has served as the Speech Node manager since 2022. She has been involved in human language technology research since 2009 and currently leads a SADiLaR-funded project for the development of a wide-coverage computational grammar for isiZulu. Her research also focuses on the application of speech and text processing technology in literacy support and language learning for the South African languages.
Professor Tobie van Dyk to come on board at SADiLaR
SADiLaR is pleased to announce the secondment of Professor Tobie van Dyk, a highly respected applied linguist from the School of Languages at North-West University (NWU) in South Africa. Prior to this secondment, Prof van Dyk was Head of the Centre for Academic and Professional Language Practice and Director of the School of Languages, both at NWU.
“Professor van Dyk’s expertise in the field of applied linguistics and his well-established national and international networks are essential for SADiLaR to fulfill its mandate,” says Mr Juan Steyn, SADiLaR’s Director of Operations.
Write It: a free multilingual programme to support students with academic writing
South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) forges ahead with an initiative to help students with basic academic writing.
SADiLaR’s language development and testing node, the Inter-institutional Centre for Language Development and Assessment (ICELDA), has developed a series of videos, called Write It, to fill the gap by guiding students through writing.
Academic writing is key to academic success, but getting it right is not easy, particularly for students who are learning in a second or third language. Some institutions offer modules in academic literacy and academic writing support, but not all students across South Africa have access to these kinds of support.
Language Resources Audit to support multilingualism is underway in public universities of South Africa
Language continues to be a barrier to access and success for many students at South African higher education institutions. This was noted by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in their revised Language Policy Framework for Higher Education. This policy framework emphasises the importance of developing multilingual environments at South Africa’s public higher education institutions as part of an ongoing effort to remove barriers to access and success in higher education in our multilingual society.
SADiLaR Researchers impart knowledge at Digital Humanities Summer School
Three of the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) researchers (Ms Mmasibidi Setaka, Mr Benito Trollip, and Prof Menno van Zaanen) recently taught courses at a summer school which was organized by the Digital Humanities Association of Southern Africa (DHASA). This 3-day event, which ran from 31 October to 3 November 2022, provided a range of courses covering topics related to Digital Humanities. This summer school was specifically targeted to students and researchers with an interest in the field of Digital Humanities.
SADiLaR host a successful third RAIL Workshop
The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) hosted a successful 3rd Resources for African Indigenous Languages (RAIL) workshop at North-West University, Potchefstroom campus on the 30th of November 2022.
RAIL workshops are an interdisciplinary platform for researchers working on resources like data collections, tools, etc and specifically targeted towards African indigenous languages with an aim to create the conditions for the emergence of a scientific community of practice that focuses on data, as well as tools, specifically designed for or applied to indigenous languages found in Africa.
Humanity: Why we need to build strong digital humanities communities in Africa
Digital humanities (DH) is what happens at the intersection of computing or digital technologies and the disciplines of the humanities. In a way, DH is the humanities’ response to the digital world. On the one hand, DH entails using digital and computational methodologies in the broad field of humanities.
DH-IGNITE: Igniting the digital humanities in KwaZulu-Natal
“At the heart of digital humanities is coding, once you can code in R or Python, a world of possibilities opens up to you,” said Professor Kevin Durrheim of the University of Johannesburg (UJ), speaking at SADiLaR’s first DH-IGNITE event which took place in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) in October this year.
SADiLaR researchers at the 2022 ALASA conference
Four SADiLaR researchers attended the 23rd Biennial International Conference of the African Languages Association of Southern Africa, organised by the African Language Association of Southern Africa
Contextualising child speech development in Africa
In order for speech-language therapists to be able to accurately identify delays in language development they need to have access to the norms of child language acquisition in a specific language, and in Africa, this information is not available.
Building a termbank for SA’s official languages
To build up the field of linguistics in nine of South Africa’s official languages the University of South Africa (UNISA) node of SADiLaR has created a linguistics termbank which is now freely available online.
Supporting government communications through automated speech captions
A collaboration between the CSIR speech node, a private speech technology company, SAIGEN, and SADiLaR has resulted in an automatic speech caption technology, to be used by Government Communications Information Systems, to ensure greater accessibility of government communications to South Africans.
DH-IGNITE: a roadshow to build our digital humanities community
SADiLaR's ESCALATOR programme is pleased to announce the DH-IGNITE regional events, which will take place across South Africa and reach out to all 26 public universities to learn more about and grow our digital humanities community.
SADiLaR kicks off its language resources audit to support multilingualism in SA higher education
As part of a strategy to implement the Department of HIgher Education's revised Language Policy Framework for Higher Education SADiLaR will be conducting a language resources audit across the higher education sphere to identify what resources are available to institutions in order to successfully implement the new policy framework.
Launching the Digital Humanities Open Educational Resources Champions Initiative
The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) and the North-West University’s (NWU) UNESCO Chair on Multimodal Learning and Open Educational Resources (OERs) are proud to announce the first intake of our Digital Humanities OER Champions Initiative.
SADiLAR and Mother Tongue Day
Sunday 21 February 2021 is a day of celebrating mother language across the globe. What does celebrating your mother language mean to you? For some it is celebrating the mere fact that language offers an avenue of communicating in a way that others understand, others will be celebrating language as a way of learning and teaching or the means of being creative and expressing yourself. There are many other reasons to celebrate one’s mother language as it forms part of your culture and of your being.
Bridging communication barriers in COVID-19 triage and screening – A mobile speech app
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), an entity under the Department of Science and Innovation and Aweza have collaborated to develop a unique mobile application to bridge communication barriers between healthcare providers and patients. Aweza is an international award-winning tech-based initiative that strives to inspire and empower South Africans to overcome language barriers across all sectors of society.
SADiLaR Digital Humanities Colloquium
Join in the first DH colloquium hosted by SADiLaR. Learn more about the field of digital humanities from experts in the field. If you are interested in DH, the theory, example research, practical applications, etc. this will provide you with an excellent platform to expand your knowledge and connect with other researchers in your interest field.
Prof Langa Khumalo appointed to lead digital language research infrastructure
The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources, SADiLaR, a research infrastructure funded by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) as part of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap, is welcoming its new Centre Director, Prof Langa Khumalo.
Prof Khumalo, who is the former Director of Language Planning and Development at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, will take the reins on 1 August, leading the Centre – the first of its kind in Africa – to achieve the constitutional imperative to recognise all the South African languages as key resources in innovation and science.
Call for papers: GWC 2021
The Global Wordnet Association is pleased to announce that the 11th International Global Wordnet Conference (GWC2021) will be held from 18 to 21 January 2021 in Pretoria, South Africa. The conference will be hosted by the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR). Due to the uncertainty of what will be the circumstances during the conference as a result of COVID-19, the venue and format of conference presentation will be announced in due course.
First online Carpentries workshop midst the COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 has changed the scope of the world and business as we know it in just a few months. Needless to say all business practices, including workshops needed to be adapted to this new climate and reality. On May 5th – May 7th SADiLaR collaborated with The Carpentries on hosting a workshop focused on equipping graduate students and researchers with the necessary data skills to conduct efficient research.
Language celebrations 2019 ended on a high note as isiNdebele was celebrated in full swing
The spirit was high at the the language celebration event that was held at the University of Mpumalanga on the 1st of November 2019. The event was well received by 146 participants as the invitation was open to the public to attend this occasion. The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR), funded by the Department of Science and Innovation, has held language celebrations throughout the year by dedicating each month of the year to an official language of South Africa. November is dedicated to the celebration of isiNdebele and it was kick started very well with the event.
Locals in high spirit during SADiLaR's Siswati celebration
The month of October was dedicated to the language of Siswati, as part of The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) monthly celebrations of all official South African languages.
At an event recently held at the University of Mpumalanga in Mbombela, more than 100 people attended the glamorous Siswati occasion as it forms part of the initiatives aimed at sharing ideas, taking action and developing awareness of our languages and language resources. These SADiLaR events are proudly supported by UNESCO's initiative to dedicate 2019 as its International Year of Indigenous Languages.
Webinar: Indigenous Knowledge
SADiLaR hosted a webinar on indigenous knowledge and copyright on 21 October 2019. The webinar was co-hosted by Kim Nayyer and Benito Trollip.
Information about the webinar:
The rights of indigenous communities are undeniable, as is the cultural value of any language. This holds for communities worldwide. These two distinct rights intersect in interesting ways with other concepts that include copyright and access to information. This webinar will be an attempt at stimulating a discussion on the natural of cultural property and rights that vest in the holders of cultural properties.
Support: Submission of datasets
Are you a Masters or PhD student? Would you like your research data to be used in future research projects? Do you want to contribute to the academic community and give access to your research data via a trusted and internationally-accredited repository?
Join the open access movement by allowing SADiLaR to support you as a student to make your research data available for fellow students and academics as well as making a broader impact your domain. SADiLaR will also assist you in structuring your data according to international standards.
SADiLaR takes the celebration of isiXhosa to its people
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.
Africa’s first language Centre launched to promote indigenous languages
At last! Hard work and dedication finally paid off.
The Government-established South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) has grown out of its down feathers and is now ready to take flight as this Centre was officially launched on 7 August 2019.
SADiLaR is a platform that creates and manages digital resources and software supporting research and development in language technologies and related studies in all the 11 official languages. It is no secret that African Languages, within the South African context, are under-resourced with regard to sufficient digitisation tools to function effectively in the modern, digital world.
Inspiring young engineers to become engineers
As we celebrate the women of South Africa during the month of August, the North-West University’s (NWU’s) Faculty of Engineering has once again launched its very own initiative to take these celebrations to the next level.
Some 150 girls from various high schools across South Africa were given the opportunity to explore the different exciting fields of engineering during the faculty’s fourth annual Femmegineering Celebration. According to Prof Leenta Grobler, a senior lecturer and project manager, men dominating the engineering scene is still an evident and alarming fact.
“Despite an improvement in recent years, there remains a serious shortage of women pursuing careers in engineering. Traditionally, this field of study remained largely unexplored by women. The NWU aims to change this - one semester at a time.”
Workshop: Language resources for the classroom
The Workshop: Language resources for the classroom was presented across the country at four different institutions: University of Pretoria (2 July 2019), North-West University (4 July 2019), University of the Free State (5 July 2019) and Stellenbosch University (8 July 2019). This workshop forms part of the ICELDA node’s collaboration with SADiLaR. Scholars with great stature in this field from different universities, including the University of Pretoria, North-West University and the University of the Free State, as well as KU Leuven and the University of Antwerp in Belgium presented the workshop.
SADiLaR takes language pride to the next level
The month of July saw a huge turnout at SADiLaR’s celebration of three South African languages, held at the University of Limpopo. This forms part of the local support of UNESCO's 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages.
Some 330 people attended the celebrations of Sesotho sa Leboa, Tshivenḓa and Xitsonga on 31 July. SADiLaR has initiated celebrations for each of the 11 official languages of South Africa by hosting collaborative events such as workshops and colloquiums at various universities in South Africa to share ideas and take action in creating awareness of our languages and in working on the development of our languages and language resources.
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.
Workshop: Language Resources for the Classroom
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).
Exciting research to be shared at the Femmegineering celebration!
The days of men dominating the Engineering scene is still an evident and alarming fact. Despite an improvement in recent years, there remains a serious shortage of women pursuing careers in Engineering. The North-West University aims to change this - one semester at a time…
The NWU’s Faculty of Engineering will once again host this year’s annual Femmegineering celebration on Saturday, 3 August 2019 where the attending grade 10, 11 and 12 girls can look forward to speakers who specialises in various interesting, and somewhat, complicated fields.
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.
First Afrikaans webinar from SADiLaR
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).
Inspiring the youth: SADiLaR school visits
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.
isiZulu research: A star on the horizon
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.
SADiLaR visits with European CLARIN centres
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.
Celebration of South African languages
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.
SADiLaR call for new project proposals
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.
Establishing a research infrastructure
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.