Self-sustaining community-driven online terminology development

Project funded by the University Language Board of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2013-2014 (1 year)


A major obstacle in teaching and tutoring computing in isiZulu is the lack of isiZulu language terminology. In other language areas, this terminology has been developed gradually over the years as the field matured and they have been inventing new terms for the concepts and devices, such a chevalier (Fr.) for the jumper, besturingssyteem (Ned.) for operating system, and conjunto (Sp.) for a set. This has occurred only to a very limited extent for isiZulu ICT, such as isilungiselelo for settings and igundane for the mouse. Historically, politically, and economically, however, it is urgent to develop this terminology in a much shorter time span than occurred for the other languages, and to do so in a manner that terminology development is by the people for the people.
A well-known successful method of rapid knowledge gathering since Web 2.0 is so-called crowdsourcing, where many people add and share some of their knowledge in a particular field in a short time span, especially when it is linked to 'games'. The games are two-player games promoting a path toward consensus, augmented with prizes as material incentive to participate beyond the social incentive. This has been used for tagging photos, genes, and other items, but has not been used for terminology development. We will use this idea and its technological approach for collective and shared terminology development for computing and related areas relevant for computing. That is, a bottom-up approach instead of the typical top-down approach to terminology development.
The envisioned technological infrastructure will consist of an online version of the game on the Internet on a PC and a mobile application that will be accessible to anyone. The data that will be gathered can be used by linguists to investigate word adaptation and invention. The obtained terminology will be added to the university's terminology server for widespread access and subsequent submission to the Pan South African Language Board for standardisation. The terminology itself is intended for use by academics and students alike, such as for developing teaching material in isiZulu and facilitating commencement of tutoring in isiZulu. Further, the technological infrastructure for crowdsourcing terminology can be reused both for community-based and consensus-based terminology development in other disciplines and for adaptation to other languages.



At scientific venues:
  1. Keet, C.M., Barbour, G. Limitations of Regular Terminology Development practices: the case of the isiZulu Computing Terminology. Alternation, 2014, 12: 13-48. journal version of the paper
  2. Keet, C.M., Barbour, G.D. Toward self-sustaining community-driven online terminology development. 7th Annual Teaching & Learning Higher Education Conference 2013, Pinetown, South Africa, September 25-27, 2013. (abstract, with full presentation)
  3. Buthelezi, T., Keet, C.M. Isihloko: Izindlela ezimkhakhamningi neziqhakambisa umphakathi ekwakhiweni kwamagama esiZulu semfundo emkhakheni weSayensi YeKhompyutha neminye encike kuwo. 18th Annual African Language Teachers Association (ALTA) Conference, April 24-27, 2014, Chicago, USA. (abstract, with presentation)
Other dissemination:
  1. Keet, C.M. On the need for bottom-up language-specific terminology development. Keetblog, February 15, 2015.
  2. Current (uncurated) list of computing and computer literacy terms in English and isiZulu: sorted alphabetically by English term / by isiZulu term (verison of January 2014). This list includes the terms from the workshop and the survey that were carried out as part of the project.
  3. Keet, C.M. A few notes and tips for forming new words. Keetblog, July 16, 2013.
  4. Slides of the presentation at the Teaching and Learning conference, presented by Graham Barbour and Rosanne Els, d.d. 25-9-2013.
  5. Keet, C.M. Commuterm presented at the Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Conference 2013. Keetblog, Oct 7, 2013.
  6. Commuterm website for the games:
  7. Commuterm software on sourceforge

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