A Repository of Free Lexical Resources for African Languages: The Project and the Method

TitleA Repository of Free Lexical Resources for African Languages: The Project and the Method
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsBański, Piotr, and Wójtowicz Beata
BooktitleProceedings of the First Workshop on Language Technologies for African Languages (AfLaT 2009)
PublisherAssociation for Computational Linguistics
LocationAthens, Greece
EditorDe Pauw, Guy, de Schryver Gilles-Maurice, and Levin Lori

We report on a project which we believe to have the potential to become home to, among others, bilingual dictionaries for African languages. Kept in a well-structured XML format with several possible degrees of conformance, the dictionaries will be able to get usable even in their early versions, which will be then subject to supervised improvement as user feedback accumulates. The project is FreeDict, part of SourceForge, a well-known Internet repository of open source content. We demonstrate a possible process of dictionary development on the example of one of FreeDict dictionaries, a Swahili-English dictionary that we maintain and have been developing through subsequent stages of increasing complexity and machine-processability. The aim of the paper is to show that even a small bilingual lexical resource can be submitted to this project and gradually developed into a machine-processable form that can then interact with other FreeDict resources. We also present the immediate benefits of locating bilingual African dictionaries in this project. We have found FreeDict to be a very promising project with a lot of potential, and the present paper is meant to spread the news about it, in the hope to create an active community of linguists and lexicographers of various backgrounds, where common research subprojects can be fruitfully carried out.

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