Accessibility has been a hot topic in technology for the last few years. Whether it’s an accessibility website overlay that enables people with disabilities to access digital content, or cloud solutions that aid in remote working for a greater level of diversity, many of the current trends and new technologies aim to promote inclusivity. And another that strives to do the same is the Live Dictionary.
Also referred to as Living Dictionaries, these are essentially mobile-friendly web-based tools that aim to support various languages, especially those diasporic, endangered, and under-represented. Through written entries, images, and video and audio recordings, the software is a collaborative effort of linguists and activists worldwide not only to overcome language barriers but to ensure the preservation of these systems of communications for years to come.
Living Dictionary: What’s it all about?
There’s no denying that minority languages continue to be forgotten, replaced by socio-culturally, economically, and politically dominant ones. Due to this, there’s a good chance that over half of the languages in the world will disappear within the next century. Thus, the goal of the researchers behind Living Dictionaries is to ensure that this doesn’t happen by promoting the revitalization, preservation, maintenance, and documentation of the world’s most endangered languages via community-driven, linguist-aided multimedia projects.
Apart from that, the application can also be helpful in improving accessibility and inclusivity. For example, when communicating with people of a specific geographical location, the software can help people overcome any language barriers.
Training the community
One of the things that set Living Dictionaries apart from other similar applications is that the team behind the software has involved indigenous people in current-generation information technology and basic linguistics. As a result, they’re able to fill the digital gap, reverse the declining prestige, and greatly improve the minority tongues’ range. In addition, they train members of the community when it comes to digital media and writing systems, enabling the project to be accepted by the rest of the speech community and succeed.
Another responsibility of the team is to help both local and global communities to appreciate better the linguistic and cultural significance of the ignored indigenous minorities, their unique systems of knowledge encoded within their languages, and their value to cultural diversity. And to ensure that they’re able to make their work widely available and accessible, they’ve developed the Living Dictionary. Beyond that, they’re committing to raising awareness through the following:
- Promote awareness and create exposure to the extinction crisis of global languages.
- Document endangered and poorly-recognized languages comprehensively.
- Offer support through community training, capacity-building, and language tech kits.
- Aid indigenous movements when it comes to the maintenance and revitalization of languages.
It comes as no surprise that the Living Dictionary is growing in popularity. After all, not only does it promote accessibility and inclusivity, but it also helps in supporting and preserving relatively unknown and unrepresented languages. If not for such efforts, these languages would have merely vanished and be completely forgotten. Only time will tell how big the Live Dictionary gets.