Awesome Ottawa

Update on the Kagate Dictionary Project

We have news from Lauren Gawne on the development of the Kagate dictionary project. She writes:

“I’ve had an action-packed couple of weeks and thought I’d take the chance to share with you guys exactly what I’ve used your money for, and what we’ve already done. Here’s the very shiny computer (Lenovo) and camera (Sony Cybershot) that you guys funded.”

“With the help of my clever and patient boyfriend I was able to get such a good price that I could afford a heap of extra peripherals, including cases for both items, an SD card for the camera, a small USB backup drive and mouse for the computer and an English-Nepali dictionary to help with the work. The computer has a great battery life, which is important because in Kathmandu we’re currently without electricity for 14 hours a day!

I’ve deliberately set the computer up to make doing the work as easy as possible. As you can see from the screen shot, only the programs they need are on the front page. I’ve also tweaked it so that all the important files are saved via Dropbox – which means that whenever they connect the computer to the internet I’ll get an updated copy of the file. This will make it easier to work together when I go back to Australia.

For the last couple of months I’ve been cleaning up a database file (that’s the Toolbox program you see on the desktop). This file was made using the scanned copies of pages from an original 1970s dictionary, of which there are probably only one or two now, as they were manually typed up and copied. It was rather cool looking, but limited in its uses.”

“I got this dictionary scanned last time I was visiting and a friend managed to use a character reader to take the text and put it in the database. The database makes working with the data so much easier as we can work on one entry at a time. It also means that we can make prettier dictionaries.”

“This is the data from the old dictionary – from the database I only spend an hour formatting it to look like this – with a database behind you suddenly making a dictionary is a lot quicker!

Of course, although it looks pretty it’s still the old data and there are lots of problems with it. For starters, the Kagate people have their own alphabet, as does Nepali, so we have to put those in instead of the Latin alphabet. Also, many of the entries need more work – and some words are plain missing (for example, the numbers seven, eleven and nineteen – which is much easier to figure out when you have a database setup).”

“We’re already off to a good start. I’ve spent one training day with Pramod and will continue to work with him while here and when I get home. Pramod and his family are extremely grateful for your help. They asked me to pass on their thanks. This kind of work isn’t quick – but I’ll be sure to send you some updates as things progress!”

We were so excited to hear this news. Personally I was intrigued to see the word “liih”, used for place of emotions. Nothing really comes to mind for an English word to use instead. “Internet” perhaps? I guess that’s more like a series of tubes. 🙂