Centre promotes digitisation of SA’s language resources

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Higher education and science and technology deputy minister Buti Manamela.
Higher education and science and technology deputy minister Buti Manamela.

Higher education and science and technology deputy minister Buti Manamela will tomorrow officially open the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) at the North West University's Potchefstroom Campus.

Supported by the Department of Science and Innovation (formerly the Department of Science and Technology), development of the SADiLaR was initiated in 2016.

The SADiLaR is described as a national centre that focuses on digitisation and creation of multi-modal resources related to all of SA’s official languages, and the development of appropriate natural language processing.

In addition, it has a digital humanities programme, which facilitates the building of research capacity by promoting and supporting the use of digital data and innovative methodological approaches in the humanities and social sciences.

The science and innovation department indicates the SADiLaR is a multi-partner distributed research infrastructure, comprising the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, University of South Africa, University of Pretoria, and Inter-institutional Centre for Language Development and Assessment.

SADiLaR also promotes existing links with similar entities globally, especially with CLARIN, the European Research Infrastructure for Language Resources and Technology, states the department.

It explains: “So far, it has benefited over a thousand students, and approximately 90 researchers and developers. This virtual infrastructure hosts a resource portal that provides a single point of entry with access to over 200 language resources and tools.

“Fields of research include language, literary and heritage studies, history, music, sociology, journalism, philosophy, psychology, media studies, and visual and graphic art. In turn, the availability of large data sets facilitates the development of a variety of language technology applications for the public good.”

Manamela is expected to be joined by North West University vice-chancellor, professor Dan Kgwadi; SADiLaR director, professor Attie de Lange; and CLARIN executive director, professor Franciska De Jong.

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