Category: Minority Languages

The Rowbory/Nigeria Family Blog

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Languages I have been working with

As we’ve talked about our work in Nigeria, several have asked about the language(s) I work with. One quick way to find out some basic information about any language in the world is to look it up on the SIL Ethnologue. So roughly in order of more – less involvement on my part here are a …

I think I’ll SayMore

Why can millions of people can happily speak languages that they can’t easily write? How do pioneer writers develop a natural written style for their language? How can mother-tongue speakers take responsibility for recording and carefully archiving some of the precious songs, stories, speeches, teachings and other communication from their languages? How do we transcribe …

Roger Blench’s website mirrored for Nigerian users

Some linguists in Nigeria have been unable to access Roger Blench’s website at the address This seems to affect Multilinks users more than MTN or Glo users. So for anyone struggling to access the site, I have set up a mirroring service which would appear to work well. Use this address: The front …

WeSay hacks: New kinds of tasks

There are some tasks that the WeSay Configuration Tool doesn’t let you configure directly. But you can write your own quite easily (as someone else has discovered) since the XML configuration file format has quite a lot of scope for extension using just Notepad or another text editor. Here we show how to do this …

Why Dictionaries Matter in Bible Translation

Here’s a disclaimer: I first came to Nigeria in 2001 on a short term trip to help people finish off a dictionary as part of a Bible translation project. I thought that might be the last of my dictionary-making, but even though it’s not really my job now I reluctantly find myself drawn back to …

WeSay: Dictionary-Making For New Linguists

There is a fantastic program called WeSay for facilitating dictionary development. It’s particularly aimed at helping people gather and describe words in their own language even without strong computer experience or traditional linguistic training. It doesn’t replace analysis tools like FieldWorks, but presents a complementary approach and is interoperable. Where Fieldworks lets you document a …

Making dictionaries with WeSay

Here’s a great site about using WeSay to document languages and collect words for dictionaries from someone working in East Congo.

New keyboards for typing Nigerian languages

I’ve issued my first releases of keyboards for typing special Nigerian letters easily on a Mac. These facilitate producing the following special letters: əɛɨɔa̱e̱u̱i̱o̱ɓɗƙ₦, and hígh tóne, lòw tòne, fâllîng tône, and nãsãl fõrms.

Instant Linguistic Workstation: just add netbook and stir

For linguists and Bible translators frustrated with the many problems of Windows machines (mainly viruses) this looks quite interesting: A beta release of Balsa ‘Basic Language Software Appliance’: About Balsa

Taking things littorally

Did you know that the word littoral existed? Or the word lory? Came across both when browsing the dictionary of a small Pacific language. I thought they were typos; my vocabulary has just been expanded!