UCT CS Research Document Archive

Preserving Endangered Languages using a Layered Web-based Archive

Poulo, Lebeko, Jorgina Paihama and Marwan Mohammed Noor (2009) Preserving Endangered Languages using a Layered Web-based Archive. In van Brakel, P A, Eds. Proceedings 11th Annual Conference on WWW Applications (ZA-WWW 2009), Port Elizabeth.

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Many human languages, an essential part of culture, are in danger of extinction. UNESCO estimates that at least a half of the world's 6500 spoken languages will disappear within the next 100 years. This problem can be addressed to some extent by computer systems that collect, archive and disseminate dictionaries for various languages, thus performing the key function of preservation.
The approach taken in this project was to develop a Web-based multilingual thesaurus, with mechanisms for the submission and retrieval of language data and metadata. This thesaurus was built on top of the FEDORA Web-based digital repository toolkit. Two distinct user interfaces were then developed as part of a proof of concept language preservation system, namely a Web interface and a cell phone interface. These were created using AJAX and J2ME+GPRS respectively.
Both user interfaces were designed using an iterative User-Centred Design approach, and the back-end system was designed to meet the needs of the user interfaces, with a Web-based API.
The resulting system proved to be useful as users indicated that they could preserve spoken languages by submitting and retrieving words in their own languages. The independent successful evaluations of the 2 user interfaces together demonstrate the feasibility of creating a preservation-directed archive as a layered Web-based digital repository, where the preservation function is separable and accessible through a well-defined Web-based API.

EPrint Type:Conference Paper
ID Code:585
Deposited By:Suleman, Hussein
Deposited On:06 December 2009