AfLaT Newsletter

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AfLaT 2010: Deadline Extension

Due to popular request, we have decided to extend the deadline for submissions to AfLaT 2010 with a few more days. The new deadline is Friday, 19 February, 2010.

We look forward to your contribution!

Job-opening: part-time teaching assistent Swahili @Ugent

Ghent University is looking for a part-time teaching assistent Swahili. More information here:


The AfLaT Team

TALAf 2016

TALAf 2016 : Traitement automatique des langues africaines (text and speech)
JEP-TALN-RECITAL 2016 Workshop - Paris 4 July 2016


TALAf workshops take place every two years. The first workshop was held during the JEP-TALN-RÉCITAL 2012 conference on June 8, 2012 in Grenoble (see proceedings: The second one took place during the TALN 2014 conference on July 1, 2014 in Marseille (see proceedings:

The third edition of TALAf will be held during the JEP-TALN-RECITAL conference, on July 4, 2016 at INALCO in Paris.

Natural language processing is booming in Africa. Indeed, in many countries, there is an ongoing official recognition of national languages, for instance:
• In Niger, laws defining alphabets for Hausa, Kanuri, and Tamajaq Zarma were published in 1999. Since then, the National Assembly has set up simultaneous translation of the debates in three languages: French, Hausa and Zarma;
• In Morocco, the Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture (IRCAM), which works for the promotion of Amazigh culture and development of the Berber language was founded by royal decree in 2001;
• In Senegal, the recognition of national languages of the recognition was mentioned in the first article of the Constitution of 7 January 2001: "The official language of the Republic of Senegal is French. The national languages are Diola, Malinke, Pular, Serer, Soninke, Wolof and other national language to be codified." The Department of Technical Education, Vocational Training, Literacy and National Languages (METFPALN) is responsible for this. Since December 9, 2014, the Senegalese parliamentarians debates are translated simultaneously through an interpretation system in six national languages (Fulani, Serere, Wolof, Jola, Mandinka and Soninke) in addition to French, allowing the majority of members to speak in their mother tongue.

Moreover, a number of colleagues / African scholars trained in the North return to their country with the will to continue their work in local languages. There are also some Diasporas that have technological material allowing them to contribute directly online and on a voluntary basis.

Added to this, the development of bilingual education programs (official / national language) in primary schools in many countries is growing. The official language remaining mostly that of the former colonial country (French, English, Portuguese ...).

On the other hand, mobile phones are spreading fast: with 650 million units, Africa has surpassed the United States and Europe. In many areas, it is easier to install a mobile antenna than fixed lines. Therefore, the people who use a telephone for the first time do it with a mobile terminal. Applications are developed such as money transfer or dissemination of weather reports.

The funding of research projects on these languages can now be obtained from the "Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie" with their calls for projects of the "fonds francophone des inforoutes" (see eg DiLAF or flore projects) or the "Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie". France also supports projects on these languages through the National Agency for Research (see eg ALFFA project).

So the conditions are gathered for the development of natural language processing in Africa, both written and spoken.

In this context, the roles of TALAf workshop are:
• bring together researchers in the field through meetings at the workshop but also with the talaf [at] imag [dot] fr mailing list;
• pooling knowledge using open source tools, standards (ISO, Unicode), and publishing the resources produced with an open license (Creative Commons) to avoid including the loss of information when a project stops and can not be resumed immediately for lack of resources;
• develop a set of best practices based on the experience of researchers ; set up simple efficient methodologies based on free or very cheap software for the development of resources, exchange about techniques that can avoid the use of non-existent resources and finally avoid loss of time and energy.

TALAf workshops are supported by the non-profit organisation "Lexicologie Terminologie Traduction":

We invite all researchers in natural language processing working on African languages, including Creole languages of Africa, whether written or oral, to submit a paper to this workshop.

Publications should contain between 6 and 12 pages. Authors are invited to submit papers presenting original research particularly on the themes listed below.

French speaking authors are invited to write in French with a summary in the language of theirchoice. Non-French speaking writers can write in English with a summary in French and another in the language of their choice.

The workshop is open to research works on the following topics:

• written corpora (monolingual, bilingual aligned or comparable)
• speech corpora (including transcription)
• lexicons, dictionaries and databases (monolingual, bilingual,multilingual)
• resources enrichment
• resources quality evaluation
• morphological analyzers, spell-checkers
• syntactic analyzers, grammar checkers
• machine translation systems (empirical or rule-based)
• speech recognition
• text-to-speech synthesis
• translitteration

Submissions will be reviewed by at least two specialists of the domain.

The following points will be taken into account:
• adequacy to the workshop topics
• importance and originality of the contribution,
• scientific and technical content precision,
• organization and clarity of the presentation.

The submission formats will be available for OpenOffice, Word and Latex and accessible from:
The communication proposals must be sent in PDF format to the following address: soumission

Martine Adda-Decker (CNRS-LPP & LIMSI, Paris, France)
Laurent Besacier (LIG, Grenoble, France)
Sokhna Bao Diop (Université Gaston Berger, St Louis du Sénégal, Sénégal)
Philippe Bretier (Voxygen, Pleumeur-Bodou, France)
Khalid Choukri (ELDA, Paris, France)
Mame Thierno Cissé (ARCIV, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Sénégal)
Chantal Enguehard (LINA, Nantes, France)
Núria Gala (LIF, Marseille, France)
Modi Issouf (Ministère de l'Éducation, Niamey, Niger)
Fary Silate Ka (IFAN, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Sénégal)
Mathieu Mangeot (LIG, Grenoble, France)
Chérif Mbodj, (Centre de Linguistique Appliquée de Dakar, Sénégal)
Kamal Naït-Zerrad (INALCO, Paris, France)
El Hadj Mamadou Nguer (Université Gaston Berger, St Louis du Sénégal, Sénégal)
Donald Osborn (Bisharat, ltd.)
Francois Pellegrino, (DDL, Lyon, France)
Olivier Rosec (Voxygen, Pleumeur-Bodou, France)
Fatiha Sadat (UQAM, Montréal, Canada)
Aliou Ngoné Seck (FLSH, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Sénégal)
Emmanuel Schang (Université d'Orléans, Orléans, France)
Gilles Sérasset (LIG, Grenoble, France)
Max Silberztein (ELLIADD, Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon, France)
Sylvie Voisin (DDL, Lyon, France)
Valentin Vydrin (LLACAN-INALCO, Paris, France)

• Submission deadline: 24 April 2016
• Notification of acceptance: 11 May 2016
• Final Submission Deadline: 1 June 2016
• Workshop: 4 July 2016

CFP: Interspeech 2016 Special Session: Sub-Saharan African languages: from speech fundamentals to applications

This special session aims at gathering researchers in speech technology and researchers in linguistics (working in language documentation and fundamentals of speech science). Such a partnership is particularly important for Sub-Saharan African languages which tend to remain under-resourced, under-documented and often also un-written.

Prospective authors are invited to submit original papers in the following areas:
ASR and TTS for Sub-Saharan African languages and dialects
Cross-lingual and multi-lingual acoustic and lexical modeling
Applications of spoken language technologies for the African continent
Phonetic and linguistic studies in Sub-Saharan African languages
Zero resource speech technologies: unsupervised discovery of linguistic units
Language documentation for endangered languages of Africa
Machine-assisted annotation of speech and laboratory phonology
Resource / Corpora production in African languages

Submission deadline
Same as regular Interspeech 2016 papers: 23rd March, 2016

Special session web site
For more details on this special session:

Organizing Committee
Martine Adda-Decker (madda [at] limsi [dot] fr) – CNRS – LPP and LIMSI, France.
Laurent Besacier (laurent [dot] besacier [at] imag [dot] fr) - Univ. Grenoble-Alpes, France - LIG laboratory.
Marelie Davel (marelie [dot] davel [at] nwu [dot] ac [dot] za) – North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa.
Larry Hyman (hyman [at] berkeley [dot] edu) - Department of Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley.
Martin Jansche (mjansche [at] google [dot] com) – Google, London, UK.
Francois Pellegrino (francois [dot] pellegrino [at] univ-lyon2 [dot] fr) – CNRS – DDL Lyon, France.
Olivier Rosec (olivier [dot] rosec [at] voxygen [dot] fr) – Voxygen SAS,- Pleumeur-Bodou, France.
Sebastian Stüker (sebastian [dot] stueker [at] kit [dot] edu) - Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany.
Martha Tachbelie Yifiru (martha [dot] yifiru [at] aau [dot] edu [dot] et) – School of Information Science, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.

Job vacancy at Ghent University

Dear all,

The department of Languages and Cultures at Ghent University (Belgium) currently has an opening for a tenure track professor in the field of “African studies”.

For more information, please see:

With all best wishes, and success to those who apply!

Gilles-Maurice de Schryver
(Prof. Dr. Ing.)

PRASA/AfLaT/RobMech Submission deadline extended

Dear AfLaT-member,

a small update on the joint PRASA/AfLaT/RobMech conferences. Due to technical difficulties in the submission process, we decided to extend the deadline until 29 September.

For more information on the conference and submission guidelines, kindly consult:

We are looking forward to your submissions.

best regards

the AfLaT team

PRASA/AfLaT/RobMech - First call for Papers

Dear AfLaT-member,

the 2014 edition of the AfLaT workshop series will be held in conjunction with the 25th annual symposium of the Pattern Recognition Association of South Africa (PRASA) and the 7th conference of Robotics and Mechatronics (RobMech) on 27 and 28 November 2014 in Cape Town (South Africa).

Please consult the call for papers at

with kind regards

The AfLaT team

ComputEL: The use of computational methods in the study of endangered languages

The use of computational methods in the study of endangered languages
52nd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics
26 June 2014

Workshop description
Contemporary efforts to document the world’s endangered languages—often going under the rubric of documentary linguistics—are dependent on the widespread availability of modern recording technologies, in particular digital audio and video recording devices and software to annotate the recordings that such devices produce. However, despite well over a decade of dedicated funding efforts aimed at the documentation of endangered languages, the technological landscape that supports the work of those involved in this work remains fragmented, and the promises of new technology remain largely unfulfilled. Moreover, the efforts of computer scientists, on the whole, are mostly disconnected from the day-to-day work of documentary linguists, making it difficult for the knowledge of each group to inform the other. On the one hand, this deprives documentary linguists of tools making use of the latest research results to speed up the time-consuming task of describing an underdocumented language. On the other hand, it severely limits the ability of computational linguists to test their methods on the full range of world’s linguistic diversity.
This workshop seeks to address this state of affairs by bringing together papers exploring the use of computational methods to facilitate the documentation and study of endangered languages. Possible topics may include, but are not limited to: (i) examining the use of specific computational methods in the analysis of data from low-resource languages, with a focus on endangered languages, (ii) proposing new models for the collection and management of data in endangered language settings, and (iii) considering what concrete steps are required to allow for a more fruitful interaction between computer scientists and documentary linguists. The workshop’s intention is not merely to allow for the presentation of research on these topics but also to help build a community of computational and documentary linguists who are able to effectively pair together to serve their common interests.

Submission information
Both long and short papers following ACL guidelines are eligible for submission. Long paper submissions should follow the two-column format of ACL 2014 proceedings without exceeding eight (8) pages of content plus two extra pages for references. Short paper submissions should also follow the two-column format of ACL 2014 proceedings, and should not exceed four (4) pages plus at most 2 pages for references. We strongly recommend the use of ACL LaTeX style files or Microsoft Word style files tailored for this year’s conference. Submissions must conform to the official style guidelines, which are contained in the style files, and they must be in PDF. Submission should be done via the START Conference Manager at

Funding possibilites
This workshop is being supported by U.S. National Science Foundation Award no. 1404352. Through this award, and related sources, funding may be available for those with accepted papers to attend the workshop, especially students. Please contact Jeff Good (jcgood [at] buffalo [dot] edu) for further information.

Important Dates
18 November 2013: First Call for Workshop Papers
9 February 2014: Second Call for Workshop Papers
14 March 2014: Workshop Paper Due Date
11 April 2014: Notification of Acceptance
28 April 2014: Camera-ready papers due
26 or 27 June 2014: Workshop Dates

Organizing committee
Jeff Good, University at Buffalo (jcgood [at] buffalo [dot] edu)
Julia Hirschberg, Columbia University
Owen Rambow, Columbia University

Program Committee
Steven Abney, University of Michigan
Helen Aristar-Dry, LINGUIST List
Alexandre Arkhipov, Moscow State University
Tim Baldwin, University of Melbourne
Dorothee Beermann, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Emily M. Bender, University of Washington
Andrea Berez, University of Hawaii
Steven Bird, University of Melbourne
Damir Cavar, Eastern Michigan University
Guy De Pauw, University of Antwerp
Sebastian Drude, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Harald Hammarström, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Judith Klavans, University of Maryland
Terry Langendoen, University of Arizona
Lori Levin, Carnegie Mellon University
Will Lewis, Microsoft
Mark Liberman, University of Pennsylvania
Worthy Martin, University of Virginia
Mike Maxwell, Center for the Advanced Study of Language
Steven Moran, University of Zurich
Alexander Nakhimovsky, Colgate University
Sebastian Nordhoff, Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Alexis Palmer, Saarland University
Kevin Scannell, Saint Louis University
Gary Simons, SIL International
Nick Thieberger, University of Melbourne
Paul Trilsbeek, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Doug Whalen, CUNY Graduate Center
Menzo Windhouwer, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Fei Xia, University of Washington

First CfP: LREC Workshop CCURL 2014: Collaboration and Computing for Under-Resourced Languages in the Linked Open Data Era

CCURL 2014: Collaboration and Computing for Under-Resourced Languages in the Linked Open Data Era

26 May 2014, in conjuction with LREC 2014, Reykjavík, Iceland

Submission deadline: 6 February, 2014 (all dates below)

The LREC Workshop “CCURL 2014: Collaboration and Computing for Under-Resourced Languages in the Linked Open Data Era” will be held on 26 May 2014, at LREC 2014 (Reykjavík, Iceland).

Under-resourced languages suffer from a chronic lack of available resources (human-, financial-, time- and data-wise), and of the fragmentation of efforts in resource development. This often leads to small resources only usable for limited purposes or developed in isolation without much connection with other resources and initiatives. The benefits of reusability, accessibility and data sustainability are, more often than not, out of the reach of such languages.

Yet, these languages are those that could most profit from emergent collaborative approaches and technologies for language resource development. Given the high cost of language resource production, and given the fact that in many cases it is impossible to avoid the manual construction of resources (e.g. if accurate models are requested or if there is to be reliable evaluation) it is worth considering the power of social and collaborative media to build resources, especially for those languages where there are no or limited language resources built by experts yet.

Collaborative, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0/Semantic Web methods and methodologies for data collection, annotation and sharing seem particularly well-suited for collecting the data needed for the development of language technology applications for under-resourced languages. Indeed, the collaborative accumulation and creation of data appears to be the best and most practicable way to achieve better and faster language coverage and in purely economic terms could well deliver a higher return on investment than expected. Moreover, it is a good way to approach a small population of speakers who live in remote countries, or are scattered in diaspora all over the world.

The workshop aims at gathering together professionals involved with language resources for under-resourced languages. The expectation is that both academic researchers a

Some specific questions that the workshop will aim to answer include the following:

* How can collaborative approaches and technologies be fruitfully applied to the development and sharing of resources for under-resourced languages?
* How can small language resources be re-used efficiently and effectively, reach larger audiences and be integrated into applications?
* How can they be stored, exposed and accessed by end users and applications?
* How can research on such languages benefit from semantic and semantic web technologies, and specifically the Linked Data framework?

We invite papers reporting on collaborative methodologies for the development of language resources for under-resourced languages, the processes involved, as well as on issues relating to their usability, e.g. design guidelines, standards for building and sharing resources, storage and exchange formats, interoperability issues, etc.

We therefore specifically encourage submissions about:

* Experiences in the creation of Linked Open Data and/or Linguistic Linked Open Data for under-resourced languages
* Using existing Linked Open Data knowledge resources such as DBpedia, Freebase, YAGO, Lexvo,, etc. in semantics-driven approaches to resource development for under-resourced languages
* Scaling existing language resource infrastructures to thousands of languages
* Crowd-sourcing of linguistic data and annotations
* Collaborative bootstrapping of language resources and language technologies (LRTs) for under-resourced languages from existing LRTs for better-resourced languages
* Mining the web and social media for linguistic data
* Developing and/or using language-independent software frameworks for under-resourced languages and other collaborations across language groups
* Ethical, sociological and practical issues in collaborative approaches and technologies
* Usability of existing infrastructures for the development of collaboratively created resources.


* Papers must describe original unpublished work, either completed or in progress.

* Each submission will be reviewed by three programme committee members. The paper review will be blind, so papers should not include authors' names and affiliations.

* Accepted papers will be presented either as oral presentations or posters and will be published in the workshop proceedings.

* Papers should be formatted according to the stylesheet provided on the LREC 2014 website and should not exceed 8 pages, including references and appendices. Papers should be submitted in PDF unprotected format to the workshop START page:

* When submitting a paper from the START page, authors will be asked to provide essential information about resources (in a broad sense, i.e. also technologies, standards, evaluation kits, etc.) that have been used for the work described in the paper or are a new result of your research. Moreover, ELRA encourages all LREC authors to share the described LRs (data, tools, services, etc.), to enable their reuse, replicability of experiments, including evaluation ones, etc. For further information, please refer to


February 6, 2014 Paper submissions due
March 10, 2014 Notification of acceptance
March 26, 2014 Camera-ready papers due
May 26, 2014 Workshop


Laurette Pretorius - University of South Africa, South Africa
Claudia Soria - CNR-ILC, Italy
Eveline Wandl-Vogt - Austrian Academy of Sciences, ICLTT, Austria
Thierry Declerck - DFKI GmbH, Language Technology Lab, Germany
Kevin Scannell - St. Louis University, USA
Joseph Mariani - LIMSI-CNRS & IMMI, France


Deborah W. Anderson - University of Berkeley, Linguistics, USA
Sabine Bartsch - Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany
Delphine Bernhard - LILPA, Strasbourg University, France
Bruce Birch - The Minjilang Endangered Languages Publications Project, Australia
Paul Buitelaar - DERI, Galway, Ireland
Peter Bouda - CIDLeS -
Interdisciplinary Centre for Social and Language Documentation, Portugal
Steve Cassidy - Macquarie University, Australia
Christian Chiarcos - University of Potsdam, Germany
Katrien Depuydt - Instituut voor Nederlandse Lexicologie, The Netherlands
Vera Ferreira - CIDLeS -
Interdisciplinary Centre for Social and Language Documentation, Portugal
Claudia Garad - wikimedia.AT, Austria
Dafydd Gibbon - Bielefeld University, Germany
Oddrun Gronvik - Instituut for lingvistike og nordiske studier, University of Oslo, Norway
Yoshihiko Hayashi - University of Osaka, Japan
Dominic Jones - Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
Daniel Kaufman - Endangered Language Alliance, USA
Andras Kornai - Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary
Simon Krek - Jožef Stefan Institute, Slovenia
Tobias Kuhn - ETH, Zurich, Switzerland
Leonel Ruiz Miyares - Centro de Linguistica Aplicada (CLA), Cuba
Karlheinz Mörth - Austrian Academy of Sciences, ICLTT, Austria
Steven Moran - University of Washington, USA
Roberto Navigli - Universita Degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza, Italy
Kellen Parker - National Tsing Hua University, China
Patrick Paroubek - LIMSI-CNRS, France
Maria Pilar Perea i Sabater - Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
Ulrich Schäfer - DFKI GmbH, Germany
Caroline Sporleder - Universität Trier, Germany
Nick Thieberger - University of Melbourne, Australia
Piek Vossen - VU Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Marianne Vergez-Couret - Toulouse University, France
Michael Zock - LIF-CNRS, France

AfLaT 2013/2014

Dear AfLaT community,

Some of us met at our annual workshop last week, at Ghent University in
Belgium. The event was most enjoyable and it is clear that a lot of
excellent African-language corpora are being assembled with which innovative
research is being undertaken. For a brief report, please see

This was our fifth meeting, with the series so far as follows:
o 1st workshop, AfLaT 2009: Athens, Greece (@ EACL 2009)
o 2nd workshop, AfLaT 2010: Valletta, Malta (@ LREC 2010)
o 3rd workshop, AfLaT 2011: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (@ AGIS 2011)
o 4th workshop, AfLaT 2012: Istanbul, Turkey (@ LREC 2012)
o 5th workshop, AfLat 2013: Ghent, Belgium (@ GAPSYM 2013)

In order to prepare well ahead of time for the 6th edition, to be held in
2014, we are hereby inviting proposals for the organization of this event.
Many of us would like to return to the African continent, so if you are
already involved in the organization of an event in Africa in 2014, do give
co-location a thought. So far, AfLaT workshops have always co-located with
another (bigger and more general) event, but of course this is not a

Simply reply to the sender of this e-mail with your ideas!

Kind regards,
The AfLaT Team.

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