Sunday, January 18, 2015
Symposium on Language Technology for South Asia 2015 [HIGHLIGHTS]
I know its bit late but anyways...
The symposium was held on 2nd of January 2015 at University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. Academics and industry experts participated the event from Universities like University of Colombo and Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT). The keynote speech was given by Prof. Rohini Paranavitana (emeritus professor, department of Sinhala university of Colombo). This year’s topics were mostly based on languages Sinhala and Tamil with the absence of representatives from other south Asian countries.
However Mr. Achinthya Bandara enlightened gathering about a small (1000+ according to census department) community which speaks a language he identified as “Sri Lankan Portuguese”. The language is a Creole (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creole_language) which has developed with the Portuguese mixing with the Tamil community living in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka during the colonial era. He find the language endangered and hence methods of documenting Creoles were discussed. According to Achinthya non-availability of a grammar makes it difficult to document Creoles. However ELAR (Endangered Languages Archive) (http://elar.soas.ac.uk/) does a major role in archiving such languages by digitally storing of videos, audios, texts and images of such languages. I was bit curious and I thought of searching for ‘Sinhala’ in their archives. They had an entry for the ‘Vedda’ language (http://elar.soas.ac.uk/deposit/0178). However no digital archives were still available.
Mr. Dhanika Perera who turned his undergraduate project in to a business and now is the proud CEO of Basha Lanka (Pvt) Ltd gave an inspiring speech to the undergraduates present at the Symposium showcasing his latest developments.
Mr. S. Shanmugarajah (Director, Mobile Architecture, WSO2) who is well known among language technology experts also shared his ongoing project on making Adobe products support Sinhala and Tamil characters. According to statistics the Adobe products are popular in the printing industry.
I was also able to present my work on a touch screen Sinhala keyboard I was developing with Prof. Gihan Dias. The keyboard allows users to input modifiers using touch gestures and will soon be available in the Google play store.
The next symposium is expected to be held later this year (2015).
Click here to see the full event in pictures.