Afia Obinim, Tuesday. April 1, 2008

Pan-African Living Dictionaries Online (PALDO)

PALDO, the Pan-African Living Dictionary Online, is a multilingual dictionary project in several African languages(*) being run by the Kamusi Project. The project is using software developed by kasahorow to manage the multilingual content. The initial stages of PALDO include:

  1. 2500-term IT terminology lexicons for 12 languages, supported by IDRC as part of the PALnet initiative

  2. Kinyarwanda - English - Swahili dictionary, supported by the US National Endowment for the Humanities

Plans for further languages are in development.

As part of the planning process, dictionary entry structures are being developed for many languages (*), including both current and anticipated PALDO languages. We welcome constructive comments on the structures for any of these languages, as well as proposals for additional languages for inclusion.

Dictionary entry structures at an advanced stage of development:

Dictionary entry structures under review by project partners:

Dictionary entry structures under development:

* A note on language names: In general, we call languages by their most common English names in our English documentation. Each language has its own name for itself that is appropriate when speaking in that language. However, we do not insist that speakers of any language must know the own-language term for each other language before they are entitled to talk about it, such as Kiswahili (the own-language term for Swahili), Sesotho (the own-language term for Sotho), or Français (the own-language term for French) - much less العربية instead of "Arabic." So, when speaking English, we refer to languages by their usual English names, with a few exceptions such as Kinyarwanda - where the English name for the language, "Rwanda," can cause confusion with the name of the country.

A second issue is that many languages have multiple names, or that a single name can refer to multiple languages. In such cases, we are forced to choose one name as an umbrella label, although we are fully aware that the name is problematic. Examples include Mande and Fula, which we are using as umbrella terms for the sake of convenience. Documentation for specific PALDO components will discuss naming issues for their particular languages in more detail as necessary, such as this article about the names Swahili and Kiswahili.

Email | Facebook