AfLaT Newsletter

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AfLaT 2013 - 2nd call for abstracts

Dear AfLat community, colleagues,

This is to remind you that the deadline for your submission of proposals to participate in our workshop on African Language Technology, on December 6 in Ghent, is exactly one week from now. Please send us your title and abstract (of about half a page, not more than a page), so that we can work on the day’s program.

Presentations may be in either English or French, and may deal with any African language (in the widest sense), as long as corpus data is used for either a corpus linguistic or computational linguistic task.

Kind regards,
Gilles-Maurice de Schryver
Local organiser: AfLat 2013

AfLaT 2013 (at GAPSYM 2013)

Dear AfLaT community,

We are happy to announce that this year’s workshop dealing with African Language Technology (AfLaT) will take place on Friday 6 December 2013, at Ghent University. This year’s workshop, the fifth in the series, is conceived differently from the earlier ones, in that we wish to broaden our activities by reaching out to all colleagues who have lexical resources for the African languages, and already work with those resources, but have not yet necessarily made the move to using advanced computational routines to speed up the analysis or the building of tools. In other words, are you a corpus linguist working on the African languages, and would you like to know how computational linguistics could further your work, then this workshop is for you. Or, do you have African language data (corpora), and would you like to know about the state-of-the-art software tools to annotate and search those data, then this workshop is for you. Of course, if you are already into computational linguistics for the African languages, then you are most welcome to present your latest research results.

This year’s workshop, then, is conceived as a MasterClass, led by the founding members of AfLaT: Guy De Pauw (U Antwerp), Gilles-Maurice de Schryver (U Ghent), and Peter Wagacha (U Nairobi). We welcome all researches currently working with African-language corpus data, inviting them to present their current data sets and/or research during max. 20 minutes, to be followed by a discussion and advice from those present for 10 min. Working languages are English and French.

To participate we will need a title for your talk, and a brief abstract only, to be sent to the local organiser, G-M de Schryver (details below), no later than 15 November 2013.

As we CO-LOCATE with the GAP Symposium, we ask all participants to register online at:
· The REGISTRATION FEE is symbolic, at just 10 EUR for BA and MA students, 20 EUR for PhD students, 50 EUR for all others, and includes the conference folder, teas and coffees during the breaks, as well as a light lunch. (Those who wish to present their paper as a poster during the GAP lunch are also welcome to do so in addition.)
· For tips on TRAVEL to the venue, please see:
· For tips on ACCOMMODATION, please see:
· For all further information, either contact the AfLaT organiser, and/or see:

== MORE INFO on AfLaT ==
o 1st, AfLaT 2009: Athens, Greece (@ EACL 2009)
o 2nd, AfLaT 2010: Valletta, Malta (@ LREC 2010)
o 3rd, AfLaT 2011: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (@ AGIS 2011)
o 4th, AfLaT 2012: Istanbul, Turkey (@ LREC 2012)
o 5th, AfLat 2013: Ghent, Belgium (@ GAPSYM 2013)
· SPECIAL ISSUE of the journal Language Resources & Evaluation on AFRICAN LANGUAGE TECHNOLOGY:

We hope to receive your submissions soon!

Gilles-Maurice de Schryver

KingoKing Research Group
Department of Languages and Cultures
Ghent University
Rozier 44
B-9000 Ghent (Belgium)
E-mail: gillesmaurice [dot] deschryver [at] ugent [dot] be


The Kamusi Project has launched its new multilingual dictionary platform, the Global Online Living Dictionary (KamusiGOLD). Emerging from the earlier Internet Living Swahili Dictionary, the new system is designed to link languages together at the level of the concept. Every term is defined in its own language, and then linked to equivalent concepts in other languages, producing monolingual dictionaries for each language and bilingual dictionaries between each participating language.

You can see how the new Kamusi differs from other dictionaries by watching this video:

A lot of features are still in development, but the core functionality is now live for sixteen languages, including nine from Africa. The multilingual beta includes a demonstration set of 100 concepts with parallel entries in each language.

You can access the demo set at

Insider tip: If you are registered and logged in, you can select "My Languages", which will then be prioritized for you in your results display. You could, for example, choose to display all of the Bantu languages in "My Languages", which would then highlight the terms for equivalent concepts in Swahili, Hehe, Kinyarwanda, Luganda, Yeyi, Gusii, and Tswana.

The project is continuing to work on bringing new languages into the demonstration set. The objective is twofold. First, to get each language configured for its individual complexities, and to train language specialists to the point that they feel comfortable using the system, so that the language is ready to accelerate in the next phase of rapid vocabulary development. Second, to showcase the potential that inclusion in the global online system has for each language, in order to attract the next-phase support for building a full 20,000 term dictionary component for that language. People who are interested in working on configuration and data for the first 100 terms for their languages are invited to contact the Kamusi Project.

With the various systems in place or in development, including morpheme and parsing systems to capture every word form efficiently, ratings for the degree of equivalence between terms in different languages, and a method to group and rank senses and translations, the goal is to produce a tool that is not just a dictionary, but can serve as the core of a host of future language technologies, as discussed briefly in this article at New Scientist:

Dear AfLaT member,

a while ago, we took over the wonderful web site "WEB RESOURCES FOR AFRICAN LANGUAGES" ( from Jouni Maho with the intention of converting it to a format similar to Much to our regret and due to reasons of time, we have not been able to maintain and update these pages. We are now looking for an enthusiastic volunteer to take over the maintenance of the site and the (popular) domain name. If necessary, we can also still host the site on the AfLaT-server, free of charge.

Let us know at guy [at] aflat [dot] org if you're interested in this endeavor.

kind regards

The AfLaT team

AfLaT 2012 Proceedings & Report

Dear member,

following up on the Workshop on Language Technology for Normalisation of Less-Resourced Languages (SaLTMiL-8/AfLaT2012), we have made the full proceedings of the workshop available through

Also available is a report on the workshop, featuring the presentations and some pictures taken during the workshop:

We would like to thank all of the program committee members, presenters and participants for making this year's special edition of the AfLaT workshop series an interesting and productive event.

The AfLaT Team

Call for Participation: Language technology for normalisation of less-resourced languages (AfLaT2012/SALTMIL8)

Dear AfLaT member,

the AfLaT2012 workshop will be held as a joint effort with our colleagues of SALTMIL and is themed "Language technology for normalisation of less-resourced languages". This pre-conference LREC workshop will take place on Tuesday, 22 May 2012, at the Lütfi Kirdar Istanbul Exhibition and Congress Centre, Istanbul, Turkey.

We invite you to participate in this workshop. The program and a link to the registration page are available from this URL:

We look forward to meeting you in Istanbul

The AfLaT Team

AfLaT2012/SALTMIL workshop: Deadline Extended

Dear member,

the deadline for the AfLaT2012/SALTMIL workshop has been extended. Papers can be submitted up to and including 5 March 2012.

We look forward to your submissions!

The AfLaT team

AfLaT 2012 / SALTMIL: Final Call for Papers

The 8th International Workshop of the ISCA Special Interest Group on Speech and Language Technology for Minority Languages (SALTMIL, and the 4th Workshop on African Language Technology (AfLaT2012) will be held as a joint effort in Istanbul, in May 2012, as part of the 2012 International Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (LREC 2012). This workshop will take place on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 in the Lütfi Kirdar Istanbul Exhibition and Congress Centre, Istanbul, Turkey.

Papers are invited for the above full-day workshop, in the format outlined below. Most submitted papers will be presented in poster form, though some authors may be invited to present in lecture format.

Context and focus

Entitled "Language technology for normalisation of less-resourced languages", the workshop is intended to continue the series of SALTMIL/LREC workshops on computational language resources for minority languages, held in Granada (1998), Athens (2000), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (2002) and Lisbon (2004), Genoa (2006), Marrakech (2008) and Malta (2010) and the series of AfLaT workshops, held in Athens (EACL2009), Malta (LREC2010) and Addis Ababa (AGIS11).

The Istanbul 2012 workshop aims to share information on tools and best practices, so that isolated researchers will not need to start from scratch. An important aspect will be the forming of personal contacts, which can minimize duplication of effort. There will be a balance between presentations of existing language resources, and more general presentations designed to give background information needed by all researchers.

While less-resourced languages and minority languages often struggle to find their place in a digital world dominated by only a handful of commercially interesting languages, a growing number of researchers are working on alleviating this linguistic digital divide, through localisation efforts, the development of BLARKs (basic language resource kits) and practical applications of human language technologies. The joint SALTMIL/AfLaT workshop on "Language technology for normalisation of less-resourced languages" provides a unique opportunity to connect these researchers and set up a common forum to meet and share the latest developments in the field.


The workshop takes an inclusive approach to the word “normalisation”, considering it to include both technologies that help make languages more “normal” in society and everyday life, as well as technologies that normalise languages, i.e. help create or maintain a written standard or support diversity in standards. We particularly focus on the challenges less-resourced and minority languages face in the digital world. Papers are invited that describe research and development in the following areas in the area of technologies for language normalisation, including (but not limited to) topics such as:

* Keyboard layouts and entry methods
* Standardisation in machine readable lexicons/dictionaries
* Computer-aided language learning (CALL)
* Dealing with language variants in NLP
* Automatic identification of varieties, dialects
* Corpus construction and annotation
* Terminology development and management
* MT between varieties of the same language
* Spelling correction/normalisation
* Machine translation (MT)
* Morphological analysers
* Part-of-speech taggers and parsers
* Speech recognition and synthesis
* Information extraction/retrieval
* Localisation efforts
* Mobile phones as a platform for HLT

Organisers (SALTMIL and AfLaT)

* Mikel L. Forcada (SALTMIL): Machine Translation Group, School of Computing, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland
* Guy De Pauw (AfLaT): CLiPS - Computational Linguistics Group, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
* Gilles-Maurice de Schryver(AfLaT): African Languages and Cultures, TshwaneDJe HLT, South Africa & Ghent University, Belgium
* Kepa Sarasola(SALTMIL): Dept. of Computer Languages, University of the Basque Country
* Francis M. Tyers(SALTMIL), Departament de Llenguatges i Sistemes Informàtics, Universitat d'Alacant, Spain
* Peter Waiganjo Wagacha(AfLaT): School of Computing & Informatics, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya

Programme committee

* Iñaki Alegria: University of the Basque Country
* Núria Bel, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
* Lars Borin, Göteborgs universitet, Sweden
* Sonja Bosch, University of South Africa, South Africa
* Khalid Choukri (ELRA,ELDA, France)
* Mikel L. Forcada, Universitat d’Alacant
* Dafydd Gibbon, University of Bielefeld, Germany
* Girish Nath Jha, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India
* Hrafn Loftsson, University of Reykjavik
* Guy De Pauw, CLiPS, Universiteit Antwerpen
* Laurette Pretorius, University of South Africa, South Africa
* Lori Levin, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
* Odetunji Odejobi, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
* Felipe Sánchez-Martínez, Universitat d'Alacant
* Kepa Sarasola, University of the Basque Country
* Kevin Scannell, Saint Louis University, USA
* Gilles-Maurice de Schryver, Universiteit Gent
* Francis M. Tyers, Universitat d'Alacant
* Peter Waiganjo Wagacha, University of Nairobi


We expect short papers of max 6,000 words (up to 6 pages) describing research addressing one of the above topics, to be submitted as PDF documents by using the LREC2012 START conference management system (URL:

Submissions should be anonymized. When submitting a paper through the START page, authors will be kindly asked to provide relevant information about the resources that have been used for the work described in their paper or that are the outcome of their research. For further information on this initiative, please refer to Authors will also be asked to contribute to the Language Library, the new initiative of LREC2012.

Submissions of papers should follow the same style as the papers for the main LREC conference (an Author's Kit made of specific guidelines and downloadable templates will be published on the conference web site in due time). All contributions (including invited papers) will be included in the workshop proceedings (CD). They will also be published on the SALTMIL and AfLaT websites.

Important dates

* 27 February 2012: Deadline for submission
* 14 March 2012: Notification
* 28 March 2012: Final version
* 22 May 2012: Workshop


Registration details will be announced in due course


LREC 2012:
Paper submission:

Call for Papers: AfLaT 2012/SALTMIL workshop, ...

Dear AfLaT member,

at the end of a very productive year in African Language Technology, we would like to draw your attention to the following news items:

[1] The first call for papers for the AfLaT 2012 workshop has been published. The Workshop on Language technology for normalisation of less-resourced languages is a joint effort between SALTMIL and AfLaT and will take place as a pre-conference workshop of LREC2012. More information can be found here:

[2] The AfLat 2011 workshop took place a couple of weeks ago, as a break-out session of the AGIS11 conference (Action week for Global Information Sharing) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A report of the 2011 edition of the AfLaT workshop series, including abstracts and slides, can be found here:

[3] 2011 also saw the publication of a Special Issue on African Language Technology for the journal Language Resources & Evaluation. More information on this special issue can be found here:

[4] If you or someone you know is involved in translation for African languages, kindly direct them to the following survey on behalf of Translators without borders:

We want to wish you a very nice holiday season and a very productive 2012!

best regards

The AfLaT team

AfLaT 2011 - AGIS'11

After two successful workshops in Athens, Greece (EACL2009) and Malta (LREC2010), we are very pleased to announce that the 2011 edition of the AfLaT workshop will be held as a breakout session of the AGIS’11 conference (Action Week for Global Information Sharing). It marks the first time an AfLaT workshop is organized on the African continent, namely in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) on 1 and 2 December 2011.

The format will be a bit different from previous events. People interested in actively participating in AGIS’11 are asked to submit a proposal for a talk before 30 September 2011 through the AGIS’11 website ( This means that you will not need to submit a full paper before the conference. After the conference, we will send out a call for papers for an AGIS’11 or AfLaT2011-specific proceedings.

For the AfLaT2011 breakout session, we invite submissions on any topic related to language and speech technology and African languages including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Corpora and corpus annotation
  • Machine readable lexicons
  • Morphological analyzers and spelling checkers
  • Part of speech taggers and parsers
  • Speech recognition and synthesis
  • Applications such as machine translation, information extraction, information retrieval, computer-assisted language learning and question answering
  • The role of language technologies in economic development, education, healthcare, and emergency and public services
  • Documentation of endangered languages and the use of language technologies to enhance language vitality
  • The combination of language and speech technology with mobile phone technology.

We hope to see you in Addis in December and look forward to receiving the proposals of your talks.

More information on AGIS’11 can be found at For specific AfLaT2011 information, please consult or contact us through aflat2011 [at] aflat [dot] org.

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