Project to update the Algonquian dictionaries, linguistic atlas, and other learning tools for Indigenous languages

 

The NRC is collaborating with a visiting scholar from Carleton University, Dr. Marie-Odile Junker, to advance a common digital infrastructure for Algonquian languages in partnership with Indigenous communities. Namely, dictionaries and a linguistic atlas, as well as other software and tools. This includes improvements to assisted language learning tools for Algonquian languages, with a focus on Innu and East Cree second language content, and software and content enhancement of the Algonquian language learning platform that Dr. Junker previously developed. She will also collaborate with the NRC on text-to-speech alignment, verb conjugators and online pronunciation tools.

Collaborators

Dr. Marie-Odile Junker, Professor, Carleton University and Visiting Scholar, NRC

The NRC's Indigenous Languages Technology Project is honoured to welcome leading Indigenous language technology expert Dr. Marie-Odile Junker as a visiting scholar to the NRC. Dr. Junker is a Full Professor at the University of Carleton's School of Linguistics and Language Studies, a Killam Research Fellow, and the recipient of the Governor General's Innovation Awards. Dr. Junker and her team have developed several websites for languages of the Algonquian family, in partnership with Indigenous organizations.

A list of Dr. Junker's partners and collaborators can be found on the website of the Algonquian linguistic atlas in the menu Credits.

Objectives

  • Update the interfaces of existing online language lessons, games, and exercises developed by Dr. Junker and her team
  • Improve the experiences of second-language learners using the platform
  • Carry out usability testing for all users of the platform

Deliverables

  • Improved learning platform for Algonquian languages, compatible with contemporary web technologies

Activities

Updating online language lessons

The first aspect of the project is focused on updating online language lessons developed earlier by the Carleton team, in partnership with Cree Programs and Institut Tshakapesh, aimed at supporting East Cree (2006‑2011) and Innu (2009‑2012) literacy. Unfortunately, the rapid pace of change in the software industry has stranded these educational tools: many of the key functionalities no longer work as intended. The collaboration is aimed at updating the platform to align with current technology. The platform update is also an opportunity to improve the experience of second-language learners, as these tools were originally developed with first-language speakers in mind, and to carry out user testing of the lessons.

Dictionaries project

The Algonquian Dictionaries project involves a dozen dictionaries of Algonquian languages that originally existed in various formats: plain text, tables, text-based databases such as Toolbox, FileMaker exports, and others. Project activities include collaborative language documentation, data collection, editing and distribution by active dictionary teams. Community input is a key ingredient for shaping the development of interfaces, layouts, types of permission, information buttons, and more.

Atlas dialectal map

The Atlas dialectal map is the latest addition to the Algonquian Linguistic Atlas and the suite of language tools being developed by Dr. Junker and her team. The online, multimedia linguistic atlas of Algonquian languages allows users to listen to various phrases spoken in many different Algonquian languages like Cree, Innu, and Ojibwe, and offers many training opportunities for sound editing and linguistic description training for Indigenous students. A number of apps for iOS and Android and conversation manuals containing the text for the Atlas, as well as sound files to hear pronunciation of languages and dialects, can also be downloaded and used in combination with the Atlas.

The Atlas aims to create contacts between curriculum developers, language specialists and lexicographers of Algonquian languages, with a focus on online language resources and dictionaries. The Atlas is also an investigation of user-friendly and culturally appropriate computing interfaces and database structures. This project is a fertile ground for knowledge transfer and mutual inspiration, with all parties working in a collaborative spirit.

Atlas dialectal map

Screen shot of the online Algonquian linguistic atlas – users can listen to languages spoken at different locations, at regular and slower speed

Contact us

Dr. Marie-Odile Junker, Visiting Scholar, Indigenous Languages Technology Project, NRC
Professor, Carleton University

Email: MarieOdileJunker@cunet.carleton.ca

Roland Kuhn, Project Leader
Indigenous Languages Technology Project

Telephone: 613-993-0821
Email: Roland.Kuhn@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca
LinkedIn: Roland Kuhn

Related links