“Dictionary Factory”!

More amazing linguistic production coming from Nepal—a Dictionary Development workshop using DDP (the method for rapid word collection and semantic classification) and the WeSay computer program. Originally planned for only 4 languages, it grew to 10 language groups and over 100 participants. Everyone wanted to get in on this exciting linguistic stuff!

In April a three-day training phase was held. By the third afternoon, each group had collected hundreds of words, glossed them, keyboarded them, and made initial printouts (both alphabetically and by semantic category). All the computer work was enabled by a wonderful young Nepali friend who did a fabulous job. Each group has a slightly different alphabet, with different characters that had to be sorted differently. About 40 to 50 field workers then fanned out to their villages for word collection. They plan to return to Kathmandu by May 22 bringing their data for keyboarding.

The Goal – after a two-month series of foundational events, this will hopefully culminate in the publication of 10 community-produced dictionaries over the next two years.

Process—(1) train facilitators for each of the 10 language groups, (2) then with those facilitators, train key people from each language who will then go to their communities for an intensive period of word collection, and (3) finally, in subsequent phases keyboard the data, working on revisions and adding parts to the dictionaries.

This is an historic workshop, not just because it includes 10 languages in foundational language development training, but because of the significant partnership! Key leaders of these partners were obviously pleased (and amazed!) to be part of these exciting developments. Two partners are even paying for all the printing, something quite extraordinary. This is an incredible opportunity to lay important foundations for future language development work in all these languages. Participants were grateful for all that was being done to help their languages.

  • The Chancellor of the Nepal Academy said in his speech at the closing program, We’ll have to do another ten languages soon!”
  • A senior professor from the university linguistics department said, This is like a dictionary factory! This is a dream of many years coming true!”